Two dinosaurs fighting

Illustrations by Rob Bolster; (background)

Hey, Jerry! Who Would Win?

The author of this popular book series shares the secrets behind its success.

Illustrations by Rob Bolster

Did you know polar bears can smell prey from up to 10 miles away? Or that a bite from the inland Taipan snake has enough venom to kill 100 people? You would if you were Jerry Pallotta! 

Jerry Pallotta is the author of the Who Would Win? nonfiction books. He makes it his job to learn as much as he can about different creatures, from great whales to army ants. Then he imagines matches between two animals and predicts which would win. The result is usually an epic battle that readers won’t soon forget!

We caught up with Jerry in between his visits to the library. Here’s what he told us. 

Scholastic News: Why do readers love your books?

Jerry Pallotta: I think they’re popular because kids always want to know what’s better. Like Brady vs. Manning, Coke vs. Pepsi, or pizza vs. cheeseburgers. 

SN: What do you think about when you write?

JP: I pretend I’m a kid, and I think about what I would love to read. What creature would interest me? I’m 68 years old, and I still really love to learn new words and new facts. I’m amazed at how some animals defend themselves! 

 Courtesy of Jerry Pallotta

Jerry with the jaws of a great white shark

SN: How do you research your books?

JP: I mostly read books. Read! Read! Read! But I also go to libraries, museums, zoos, and aquariums. I talk to many people, like scientists, zookeepers, fishers, and park rangers. I’ve traveled to Africa and Antarctica. I’ll do anything to hunt down cool facts. 

SN: What’s your favorite museum for research?

JP: The Harvard Museum of Natural History is my favorite near my house in Boston. So many mammals are stuffed there, even many extinct ones. There’s a turtle shell as big as a pickup truck. You can stand next to a tiger, an elephant, and a giraffe! 

SN: What do you keep in mind when picking winners?

JP: Sometimes the best athlete would win. Size might be a factor. A walrus weighs 3,000 pounds, an elephant seal weighs 8,000 pounds. It’s obvious. Some snakes have deadly poison; they would win. Speed, size, venom, intelligence, weapons— they’re all factors. 

SN: What’s the title of your most recent book?

JP: Ultimate Reptile Rumble just came out, and it’s filled with so many great reptiles, like snakes and lizards! 

Illustrations by Rob Bolster

1. Why does Jerry Pallotta sometimes imagine that he’s a kid? 

2. What details does Jerry share to explain why he likes the Harvard Museum of Natural History? 

3. What does Jerry think about when deciding which of two animals would win a match? 

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