My full name is Gerard Larry Pallotta but my mom always called me "Jerry". I was born on March 26, 1953 in Boston, Massachusetts. My mom's name is Mary, and she came from a family of ten children. My dad's name is Joe, and he came from a family of five children. My grandparents were immigrants of Italian descent. I have the nicest parents in the world. They were always unselfish and ready to help me. I have four brothers and two sisters: Joey, David, Andrew, Danny, Cindy and Mickey. I have seventy-two first cousins. When I was growing up, there were...KIDS EVERYWHERE!
My family moved to Medford, Massachusetts when I was young. I went to elementary school at Mt. Trinity Academy, not far from where my publisher is located in Watertown, Massachusetts. I never wrote a book in elementary school, and we never kept journals. In the neighborhood where I grew up, almost every family had seven to nine children. I guess that you could say that there were...KIDS EVERYWHERE!
I went to high school at Boston College High School, a Jesuit all-boys school in downtown Boston. The priests and other teachers were really wonderful. I played football and ran track. I had a great high school experience and I think later it made my studies in college much easier. My sons Neil and Eric graduated from Boston College High School in 2001 and 2003. Neil was named after a teacher I had, Fr. Neil Callahan, S.J. I never wrote a book in high school, and I never wrote for the school newspaper. I was too shy and was afraid of what other kids would think.
After high school I went to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. I majored in business, a subject that would help me later in life when I decided to publish my first book. At Georgetown, I met my wife, Linda. In college I was an average student and was captain of the Georgetown University Rugby Team. I never wrote for the college newspaper, and I never imagined writing books. A couple of years later, Linda and I got married and I started to work at an insurance company in Boston. During the first six years of being married, we had four kids. It seemed like there were...KIDS EVERYWHERE!
Today, we sometimes spend time with my 31 nieces and nephews...again...KIDS EVERYWHERE!
I learned valuable skills while talking to people, selling insurance and collecting money. When I came home from work, Linda would ask me to "read to the kids!" I loved reading to my kids and I learned to appreciate children's books. The first few books that we bought were alphabet books and counting books. "A" was always for Apple and "Z" was always for Zebra. One day I decided, "Hey, I can do this!" I had an idea. I would write an alphabet book about the Atlantic Ocean. I spent every summer at Peggotty Beach in Scituate, Massachusetts. I have great memories of lobstering, fishing, mossing, clamming and rowing in my dory.
I wrote my first book in 1985 when I was 32 years old. I came up with the idea, wrote it, designed it, researched it, edited it and my cousin illustrated it. I published it myself under the name of Peggotty Beach Books. What fun! It was first printed on July 7, 1986. I'll never forget that day. The book eventually became the #1 best-selling book at the New England Aquarium. I was afraid that only my mother would like it. Teachers and kids told me they really liked my book.
While speaking in schools, teachers also told me they were looking for simple non-fiction nature books. It gave me the confidence to write more. My next book, "The Icky Bug Alphabet Book", has sold more than 1 million copies. My third book, "The Bird Alphabet Book" was voted one of the best books of the year by Birders World Magazine. I now have over twenty alphabet books, more than twenty math books, also the Icky Bug books, a holiday series, a U.S. Military series, Who Would Win? books, a biography and a few stories. My goal has always been to write interesting, fact-filled, fun to read, beautifully illustrated color children's books. Thank you to all my illustrators: Ralph Masiello, Frank Mazzola, Jr., Rob Bolster, Edgar Stewart, Leslie Evans, Mark Astrella, David Biedrzycki, Bonnie Gee, Shennen Bersani, Tom Leonard and Howard McWilliam. I now visit more than 150 schools per year. Guess what? There are still...KIDS EVERYWHERE!
I love writing books and I love visiting schools all over the United States. I think I have the best job in the world!