Allison's Book Bag

Three Picture Books by Jerry Pallotta

Posted on: November 4, 2015

Jerry Pallotta is known for his picture books about his New England home, as well as his nonfiction alphabet and counting books. Here, I’ll review one from each of these three categories. Welcome to the wondrous world of dories, butterflies, and multiplication!

Dory Story is a fictional tale about Danny, who can’t resist going out in a boat alone to search for bay creatures, despite warnings from his parents about being just a kid and therefore too young. Pallotta perfectly captures the innocent curiosity of young people that drives them to explore the bigger world around them. Each discovery leads his main character to desire to learn more, from his reading about plankton to his seeing seabirds and shrimp. As Danny rows further out, readers are educated right along with him about food chains, as he realized that killer whales eat tuna, tuna eat bluefish, bluefish eat mackerel, sand eels eat shrimp, and shrimp eat plankton. While the style and illustrations are fabulous, I did wonder if Danny might be a little old to cry, “Help! Where’s my mommy?” Otherwise, I enjoyed being scared right along with Danny when he began to realize that like the harbor seals, he should have stayed near the shore. The end is unexpected and perfect.

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?

If you think you know alphabet books, think again because these are not only highly decorative but also extremely informative texts. The Butterfly Alphabet Book is just one of over a dozen nonfiction alphabet books by Jerry Pallotta. Whatever your age, if you’re a fan of butterflies, this is must-have text. Pallotta introduces readers to butterflies of all different colors, sizes, and locations. There is the Baltimore Checkerspot, which boasts the same orange, black, and white colors of Baltimore Oriole birds AND baseball player uniforms. There is the Queen Alexandra Birdwing, the largest of the twenty thousand or so known species of butterflies. The painting in Pallotta’s book is the actual size. Then there is the Apollo, high-flying champions, who have been spotted in the mountains of Asia. Besides introducing readers to a diversity of butterflies, Pallotta also incorporates interesting facts about butterflies such as butterflies do not have noses, but instead smell with their antennae. I enjoy everything about this rich and inviting picture book.

My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.

How would you rate this book?

Back in my days of teaching math, The Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Multiplication Book had long been part of my classes. Right inside this picture book is a scrawled note: “Your teacher is not in school today. Please report to the art room for math class.” When the actual text begins, students are advised to count the sections of the bar but then told there’s an easier way to find the total: multiplication! Pallotta has young people drawing candy bars, sculpting candy bars, creating candy bars out of colored paper, along with many other hands-on variations. In the midst of all this fun, Pallotta also introduces arrays (or grids), multiplication and equals signs, various properties of multiplication, and even concepts such as square numbers and factors. Just rereading The Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Multiplication Book makes me want to teach math again. However, the downside to this highly engaging book is it’s out print, due to many teachers and districts no longer wanting sweets being used in the classroom.

My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.

How would you rate this book?

Jerry Pallotta has written countless picture books. Whichever ones you elect to purchase for your shelves, you’re sure to not be disappointed. They’re entertaining, educational, and even inspirational. Many students from across the United States have created their own alphabet and counting books, using Pallotta’s texts as a guide. Enjoy the adventure!

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