Jerry Pallotta’s talk covered the biology of everything from whale’s teeth to writer’s minds.
By Alex Oliveira
Hometown Weekly Reporter
First graders at Wellesley’s Hardy School were treated on Tuesday morning to a visit from author Jerry Pallotta. Pallotta is the author of numerous children’s books, known most notably for his popular “Who Would Win” books, a series that uses showdowns between dangerous animals as a means of exploring their biology, habitats and lifestyles.
With a slideshow of his work, a coy sense of humor, and an almost childlike way of explaining things that kept the students rapt, Pallotta delivered a presentation that explored both the peculiarities of many species, and the process by which a book is written.
A pair of pages from his book, “Killer Whale vs. Great White Shark,” were projected on the screen, to the left an illustration of a killer whale rising from the ocean with its mouth agape, to the right a great white doing the same.
“Hey kids, look what I learned,” Pallotta said, gesturing at a close up of the orca’s tooth. “The killer whale’s tooth is shaped like your finger. The shark has a triangle shaped tooth like a razor blade.”
Then he showed a pair of illustrations of the animals’ dorsal fins, side by side.
“Kids, look at this one,” he continued. “That’s the dorsal fin of a boy killer whale, and that’s the dorsal fin of a girl killer whale. Look at me, I don’t have a dorsal fin. Do kids in Wellesley have dorsal fins?”
The kids erupted with a choir of “Noooooo,” and one defiant, “Yes, I have a dorsal fin.”
Pallotta has been writing children’s books for over thirty years. A native of Boston and the South Shore, he spent his childhood summers fishing and lobstering in Scituate. Those summers kindled an early love and curiously of marine creatures and wildlife. It wasn’t until he had kids of his own, though, that Pallotta thought to write children’s books.
“I first thought of writing children’s books when I was reading to my own kids.”
Since he started, Pallotta has written countless children’s books, with titles like “Going Lobstering,” “How Will I Get to School This Year,” “Dory Story,” and a series of alphabet books covering everything from airplanes and boats to beetles and freshwater fish.
His most successful series, though, is “Who Would Win.” The action and suspense entices the kids, but strict entertainment isn’t what Pallotta is after.
“Want to know how I tricked you kids? It says, ‘What if a killer whale a great white shark had a fight, who do you think would win?’ But there’s no fight! I tricked you into reading a compare book!”
As the realization sunk in, Pallotta asked the kids what he should write his next book about.
“Chicken versus pig!”
“Peanut butter versus jelly!”
“Boy versus girl!”