Few things captivate children more than interesting and unusual facts; the joy of possessing specialized knowledge to share in conversations or surprise adults with newfound expertise is unparalleled. And what better way to satiate a child’s hunger for facts than by exploring the captivating world of animals through the words of acclaimed author Jerry Pallotta? We were fortunate to host him last week, where he shared insights into his work and introduced our children to some of his remarkable books.
One of the standout favorites at TCS is Jerry’s inaugural masterpiece, The Ocean Alphabet Book. Taking readers on an alphabetical journey through the depths, the book unveils the fearsome teeth, light-up bodies, peculiar eye arrangements and cunning hunting behaviors of marine species in the northern Atlantic. Amidst unforgettable facts (did you know a tuna can grow almost as large as a car?), Jerry infuses a touch of sly humor, playfully imagining the challenges of shaking hands with an octopus. He cleverly kicks off the book with a joke—”A is for Alphabet Book. A is also for Atlantic Ocean.”—and concludes with a playful twist: “Z is for Zillions. That’s how many fish there are in the ocean!” This combination of engaging facts, meticulous research, humor, and realistic illustrations has mesmerized readers for 35 years, making it a true classic.
Jerry Pallotta has since crafted numerous fascinating alphabet books, delving into the realms of “icky” bugs, “yucky” reptiles, skulls, moths (with the intriguing title Not a Butterfly Alphabet Book), and even eyeballs. Facing the challenge of finding critters for certain letters, he was elated when Chinese scientists bestowed five newly discovered dinosaurs with names starting with X. “I was so relieved,” he shared in an interview. “All I could think of was that I had enough X’s for four more dinosaur books!” Our admiration extends to his Icky Bug Alphabet Book, where he humorously addresses the absence of X (“X is for the marking on the back of this bug”) while delivering scientific tidbits about intriguing creatures like the unicorn beetle, velvet mite, and zebra butterfly—delighting children with minds like “sticky webs” for new words and facts.
Older children at TCS are enthralled by Pallotta’s latest series, Who Would Win?, which pits various fierce animals, both alive and extinct, against each other. While the kids might perceive them as battle books, Jerry is ingeniously crafting comparison books, rich in scientific nuggets and humor. In Ultimate Shark Rumble, he orchestrates a tournament bracket featuring 16 shark species, providing an abundance of knowledge and vocabulary about shark behavior and anatomy. From sleep habits to impressive speeds (the shortfin shark, “the cheetah of the sea,” reaches 45 miles per hour), the series has become irresistible even for reluctant readers.
During his visit, Jerry Pallotta generously shared photographs of the animals he continually researches, expressing a particular fondness for the orca. He also discussed his late-in-life decision to become a children’s author, declaring, “I think I have the best job in the world.” With a portfolio boasting 101 published books, he offered valuable advice to our aspiring authors: Seek out books you genuinely enjoy reading, devour as many as you can, and infuse enthusiasm into your writing—enthusiasm triumphs!
We encourage you to explore Jerry’s marvelous books in the library, where our eager bookworms will undoubtedly find an enriching trove of knowledge, inspiration, and a gateway to the captivating world of animals. Happy reading!