Claude: The True Story of a White Alligator

Claude the white alligator is a famous resident of the California Academy of Sciences, the historic science museum in San Francisco. But Claude wasn’t always beloved. In this nonfiction picture book, find out how during the first part of his life, the reptilian celebrity was shunned for being different, and then traveled thousands of miles to a new home across the country. Today, every year Claude attracts millions of visitors, who, like Claude, know that different is wonderful.

From Sasquatch Books/Little Bigfoot. August 2020. Illustrations by Jennifer M. Potter.

Read reviews on my press page.

WINNER! Louisiana Readers Choice (LYRC) award – Students in grades 3 and 4 across Louisiana chose CLAUDE as their favorite picture book of the year! CLAUDE was celebrated at the 2023 Louisiana Book Festival, on October 27.

Nominee, The Washington Children’s Choice Picture Book Award, 2022-2023



STARRED REVIEW ★ “The theme of rejection due to difference is an intrinsic part of Claude’s story, so readers develop sympathy and empathy as they also learn facts about albinism and animal behavior… Sweet and engaging.” –Kirkus Reviews

8+ weeks on the Northern California Independent Bookseller Bestseller List

“Claude’s story, so deftly captured by Smith and Potter, offers more than information about an albino alligator. As a shared read-aloud between adult and child, the book prompts discussions about adaptation, race, acceptance and the environment.” –San Francisco Chronicle.

“An ideal and unreservedly recommended addition to family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library Pets/Wildlife picture book collections for children”-Midwest Book Review

“Claude’s hopeful tale is a celebration of individuality and the joy in finding those who appreciate you for exactly who you are.” –Booklist

Selection, Missouri School Librarians Dogwood Book List for Nonfiction

“The true story differs from “The Ugly Duckling” not only in its basis in fact but in the sensitive way the author describes the other animals’ reactions to Claude. Her tone and choice of words makes it clear that their reactions to his differences arise not from anthropomorphic character flaws but from their simple attention to their own survival.

In the colorful full-page illustrations, the people who care for and who enjoy Claude are portrayed as providing a cheerful, attentive background presence. They model reactions that would help make this an inspiring addition to First-day school or a Quaker home library.” –The Friends Journal

Selected for the Kirkus Reviews Best Picture Books of 2020