Alligators Overhead Trailer

Monday, July 9, 2012

All About Alligators


Most of my readers know I'm launching my first Middle Grade novel, Alligators Overhead. How could they not? That's all I'm posting about these days. Sorry. I'm not usually so ME, ME, ME, and this will pass. I promise.

When I started writing this story it was just for fun and just for me. Then a few kids read parts and wanted to know how it ended. That lead to my wondering how it ended, too. So I had to find out. This was my most "by the seat of my pants" book I've ever written, so it has taken me some time.

While I was trying to figure out that ending, I did some research into alligators and found lots of interesting facts. I thought I'd share some of them.





Did you know


  • alligators crept onto the planet during the Cenozoic era, a couple of years ago? When the dinosaurs died off, alligators didn't. I'd say they have survival down. 
  • their eyes glow red under light? That's how they're counted--at night. Talk about scary.
  • they were near extinction, but now they thrive in the SOUTHEASTERN U.S. swamps and wetlands?
  • they're ambush predators, so they do lots of stealthy stuff, like, pretend to be water hyacinths?
  • they'll eat anything, but they're really keen on marshmallows? I feel a joke coming on. Why do they love marshmallows? Because they live in the marsh. (Terrible, right? Sorry.)


Other writers have used alligators in stories for kids. This one is for the really young pre-reader by our late, but forever great Maurice Sendak. 

Alligators All Around










Here's another author who seems amused by alligators. Mercer Mayer wrote a bedtime story for the little old set. His book, There's an Alligator Under My Bed, seems to have brought out the ham in this writer.







When I was a kid I loved stories about animals: Bambi, My Friend Flicka, The Black Stallion, all the James Herriot books. I never did care much about alligator stories (Captain Hook's enemy being the exception-or was that guy a crocodile?), and here I am the author of a book with these reptiles as major characters. What were your favorite animal stories growing up? Do you know of other books with alligators as featured characters?

38 comments:

  1. I was partial to The Mouse and his Motorcycle.
    Yes, bad joke about the marshmallows!

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  2. I would not want to be an alligator counter. I liked the mythical animals like dragons and unicorns.

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  3. I was totally into wolf-dog stories. Alligators have been sited here where I live in the Hill Country of Texas, northwest of San Antonio! That's a long way from the bayous.

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  4. I actually live in alligator territory. We started watching a show on animal planet called Gator Boys (I think), where they capture nuisance gators and keep them in a preserve. Love that show! I'll have to check out your book- my girls would love it I'm sure :)

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  5. I read all the horse stories I could find when I was growing up. It was my way of having the horse I always wanted but never could have.

    And I definitely need to check out your ALLIGATORS OVERHEAD.

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  6. Yikes! Glad I don't have the job of counting them!!!

    I loved animal books as a kid too!

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  7. I love There's an Alligator Under My Bed! That's a great story for kids. I suspect I'll enjoy yours even more, now that I - I mean my kids - are a little older!

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  8. Alligators creep me out. :(

    I don't know any books with alligators in them. Not even as a conflict. Sorry. :)

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  9. Neat that they imitate water hyacinths. Yay on your book coming out.

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  10. Okay, you got me with the marshmallow joke! Sheesh, even with the warning about the joke! I thought you were joking about that! Very scary about their red eyes at night. All these facts are interesting. How exciting that you MG book will launch soon!

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  11. My eight-year-old loves alligators, so he and I will have to read your book together.

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  12. Interesting facts. Is it an alligator in Peter Pan?

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  13. You know what one of my favorite songs was as a kid? "There's an Alligator in the Elevator" by Rick Charette. :)

    Thanks for sharing the facts!

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  14. The red eye fact totally creeps me out. I would never want to hear a gator's inner monologue. I was a Jungle Book nut as a kid, and Lassie was my favorite TV show. Can't wait to read to read Alligators Overhead. BTW - visualizing the title scares me. My gators need to stay down.

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  15. I loved the same animal books you did, but as a small child I was partial to books about squirrels.
    There are supposed to crocodiles in the Nile, but I've never seen any ... luckily.

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  16. Interesting facts about alligators! I can't wait for your book to come out! Julie

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  17. I was always a sucker for alligators when I was a kid. Growing up on a lake in FLA, alligators were as common as squirrels, and the subject of many a bad dream. But I still love them and the fascinate me to no end. Love that you used them in your story. Good stuff!
    The only thing that interested me more than gators as a child, was sharks. So any book having to do with them held my full interest. Especially non fiction. Ironically, my daughter holds the same fascination. Strange how some things are passed down that you'd never expect. :)

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  18. For those of you without email reply here's my personal thanks for your wonderful comments. Those with email reply activated, I've already contacted you, but here's another thanks for your continued support.

    See y'all at the Swamp Hop.

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  19. I loved the Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman. I've read it to my kids when they were little tots too.

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  20. Aww, I miss those Meyer books!
    Love the marshmallow joke :-)
    I would never want to stand somewhere at night where I have to count many many alligators by red eyes alone!

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  21. I like your book cover!!
    And I know he's not an alligator, but I always liked Lyle the Crocodile :)

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  22. Yikes, alligators! I'm a little scared of them, to be honest, but I'm a giant wimp!

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  23. There's a children's book called Zack's Alligator and it's really cute. Zack's uncle sends him a keychain with an alligator on it and instructions to water the alligator. When Zack does, it grows to full size. It constantly needs water or it will shrink back to a keychain. My daughter loves it.

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  24. I enjoyed the alligator facts! Especially since I am reading your book (just started it). : I am finding it all very fascinating so far!

    I love the Mouse and the Motorcycle series and Frog and Toad. Also- all of the Beatrix Potter books. :)

    Fun post!
    ~Stephanie

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  25. The red eyes are so creepy.

    I thought alligators were interesting when I was a kid. Living in Florida, I'm glad I'm not close to canals or the Everglades. Alligators live too close to humans in some areas.

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  26. When I was growing up in Oirland, the only alligators I saw were the ones on my strange uncle's shoes, so I wasn't scared until I lived in Central FL, and they were all over the place... scary indeed :)

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  27. I liked dog stories growing up. And then I grew up into a cat person. :)

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  28. Alligators are scary! Good think I don't live in Florida or something. love that video!
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  29. I love to learn new facts! I had no idea alligators are counted at night because of their eyes. WOW!

    As a kid I loved any book with a horse in it. :)
    ~Jess

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  30. I love to learn new facts! I had no idea alligators are counted at night because of their eyes. WOW!

    As a kid I loved any book with a horse in it. :)
    ~Jess

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  31. Cool alligator facts, Lee. The glowing red eyes is rather unsettling. I'm glad there aren't any alligators around here. They really creep me out =0

    Can't seem to remember many books from my childhood, but when my girls were little they loved all of the animals featured in Bill Peet's books. Then there were some easy readers: The Aunt Eater Mysteries, I think, and Fox from the Edward Marshall series.

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  32. I'm fascinated by alligators! But if I ever saw one in real life I'd be too scared to run away. Good luck with your book launch!

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  33. Ooh, I enjoyed reading those facts about Alligators. Yeah, the read eyes are scary *shiver* And marshmellows? I didn't see that one coming. Made me smile.

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  34. Alligators pretending to be water hyacinths - that must be quite a disguise!

    I was more of a Paddington fan :)

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  35. I've learned so much about animal stories and songs from you who have left comments. I'm making another list of only animal books to share with my young readers. Thanks for these!

    See you next week. Have a great weekend.

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  36. Oh I'm loving Mr Mercer's story clip!! Awwwww how adorable!!! What a great story teller!! It's too cute!!

    I have great respect for alligators cos I just think they do what they do and are just who they are and have always been for billions and billions of years! But I will cry if I ever come across one! LOL!

    I love the Wind and the Willows characters! Take care
    x

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  37. One of my favorite stories I used to read to my daughter was called Bill and Pete. It was about a crocodile and his best friend...a bird.

    Best wishes with your book! It sounds wonderful.

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  38. I loved to visit the crocs in the local zoo. They always looked so awesome just sitting there doing nothing.

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