Best-selling author Jerry Pallotta remembers what he liked to read when he was a child. This ability has enabled him to write more than 100 children’s books, most notably, the hugely popular Who Would Win series, which pits together two types of animals.
Second and third graders at Todd School in Briarcliff had a chance to meet Pallotta in the Todd library and find out all about his inspiration for his books, his love of travel and his writing process.
Pallotta began showing students photos of his travels to Africa and Antarctica, as well as the many animals he likes to photograph during his trips.
He spoke about his favorites of all the books he has written, including the Who Would Win series, as well as his alphabet books, in which he lists various animals in a certain species, such as fish and birds, in alphabetical order.
His stories were peppered with jokes that both students and teachers found hysterically funny, but he was also an inspirational speaker, saying:
“I always tell students: work hard and be nice to people.”
He also showed students early drafts of his manuscripts and how he has edited them.
At the end, he invited students to come up to him in the front of the library to ask questions. Students asked why he wrote about so many fish, what his favorite animal is and why he is so funny.
Jack, a third grader, said he liked how he showed how he wrote his books.
“I love the entire Who Would Win series,” he said.
Pallotta credits his success to a stroke of luck.
“When I started writing non-fiction books, I felt like an invisible hand was guiding me,” he said. “thirty-five years ago, there were virtually no non-fiction books for kids on the market. Non-fiction for children began in the late 80s or early 90s.”
Pallotta remembered what he liked to read when he was a child and thought children would want to read about those things as well. This is how his Who Would Win books came to be.
“I think the fighting aspect is what draws the kids in, but there are only one or two pages about the fighting in each book, the rest are facts about the animals,” he said. “But it was a matter of luck. The books could have easily failed.”
His books, which are very popular with school-aged children have been a source of pride for Pallotta.
“The most rewarding thing for me as a writer is the letters that I receive from parents,” he said. “I get a lot of letters saying ‘my kid would never touch a book but they can’t stop reading these animal books,’” he said.