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Needham author signing books this weekend

Posted by Your Town  August 6, 2009 09:46 AM

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Since writing his first book at age 32 in 1995, Jerry Pallotta has made up a lot of time. He has published 60 books, aimed mainly at grade school children, and has often turned to subjects that you’d expect from an author who spent his summers in Scituate, such as “Going Lobstering” and “Dory Story.”

This weekend, Pallotta will be signing books near the Riva restaurant during the Heritage Days festival at Scituate Harbor.

I live in Needham, but my boat lives in Peggoty Bay.

My family’s been on Peggoty Beach since 1929. My grandmother’s house is there, and my mother lives off Peggoty Beach Road. When I was in high school and college, I earned money by harvesting seaweed -- I was a mosser. I’ve been pulling lobster traps ever since I was 14. I still go out two or three times a week, check the traps, bait them, and maybe I’ll get two or three.

A few years ago, Jon Scieszka, the man who wrote “The Stinky Cheese Man,” wrote to 100 authors -- guys, we’re all concerned about guys not reading, mostly at the elementary level -- and he asked us to write a short story that guys would like, and we had no restrictions. So about 80 guy authors submitted stories to a book called "Guys Read." Stephen King has a story, Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated, famous children’s authors like Gary Paulsen, Will Hobbs, Gordon Korman.

The story I submitted is a true story about something that happened when I was 10 years old. When I was a kid, they weren’t as strict as they are now, and every year, someone would drown at the mouth of the North River....Amateurs used to rent boats and they would come out of the North River and would just be overwhelmed. So two kids and a guy drowned. The Coast Guard found the kids right away, but the guy was never found, until six weeks later, he washed up on Peggoty Beach, right by my mother’s house.

Now I’m doing a series with Scholastic called “Who Would Win?” I thought up the series, I designed the series, I have an illustrator, and we use some photos in the books. The first one compares a killer whale with a great white shark. The idea is to teach kids about these creatures. One’s a mammal, one’s a fish. One has round teeth, one has triangular, serrated teeth. The book goes down the list, and at the very end, they fight.

It’s a book that guys would like; I’m after those reluctant readers. And then I wrote lion vs. tiger -- that one’s coming out in October, and polar bear vs. grizzly bear, and right now I’m working on a hornet vs. a wasp.

I’ve been signing books at Heritage Days for three straight years. I’ll be there the whole time the vendors are out [on Saturday and Sunday]. It’s a real treat for me. I sit, sign books, talk to whoever comes by, and listen to the music. It’s like the dream signing place.

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