Laurence Pringle

Children's Books and School Author Visits

Click on a title below, and read the story behind the book!

"Another winner in a long series of engaging, informative invitations to explore the natural world." --Kirkus Reviews Starred Review
"Beginning on a snowy afternoon in February and ending in early autumn, this book centers on a fox named Vixen as she explores her habitat, hunts, runs from danger, and starts a family. This intimate and personal view into Vixen's life is chronicled through a beautifully cohesive relationship between text and illustration...A rich reading experience awaits those who pick up this title..."--School Library Journal STARRED REVIEW
A "picture-book equivalent of watching a nature documentary."--School Library Journal
"Budding arachnologists will find this an enlightening introduction."--Kirkus programs about writing in schools
"A coolly fascinating, nostalgic glimpse into life as it was over a century ago." --Kirkus Reviews
"A must-have addition to science collections." --Booklist
"intelligent..eye-catching..readable lodestone for researchers." Starred review, School Library Journal
Paperback--the most unusual dinosaur book ever published!
The most comprehensive children's book about these amazing insects! "Smoothly written, beautifully illustrated"--School Library Journal author meets students in elementary schools
"An amazing nonfiction children's book"--Midwest Book Review
"A especial treat for young dragon lovers." --Midwest Book Review
"Words and stirring pictures focus on the role of the powerful black man on the thrilling journey...he is hailed as a national hero." -- Booklist author visits in schools
"Pringle's succinct text provides an engaging overview of penguin life...even penguin fans will find something new." -- Booklist
"Even readers fearful of snakes may find the subject a little less strange, a little more wonderful." -- Booklist
"Presented with respect for the subject and for the audience, this is one of the best of the many bat books, especially for a somewhat younger audience." --Booklist programs about writing for kids in schools
"The lucid text and elegant illustrations march in perfect step, creating an attractive fusing of art and information." --School Library Journal
"An exemplary nature-study book--accurate, explicit, and satisfyingly complete." School Library Journal
"Full of adventure and excitement, this book contains a wonderful mix of intriguing stories and historical facts."
--Childhood Education
elementary school author visits
"A poetic text...A wonderful choice to share with children before a summer vacation or to use as an introduction to an ecology unit." --School Library Journal
"A superb, well-researched book that finds extraordinary science in the everyday life of a butterfly."
--Kirkus Reviews
school author visits
Picture Book Fiction
"A likable book that's sure to start kids romping, and maybe their parents, too."--Kirkus

Alligators and Crocodiles! Strange and Wonderful

The Story Behind the Book

Like all writers, I aim to "hook" readers in my first few sentences, luring them to keep on reading. Sometimes I think about this beginning, or lead, months before I actually begin all-out work on a book. I'm very happy with the way this book starts: with the sounds of baby 'gators, still in their eggs. And then--not by accident--page 3 ends with a question: "Where was their mother?" You have to turn the page, keep on reading, to find out if she shows up. And a little story continues, telling how Mom helps her young out of their eggs, and keeps on caring for them. Only on page 6 does the reader meet the first nonfiction sentence: "Few people know that mother alligators give tender care to their young."

As it turns out, this beginning caught the attention of a distinguished expert on children's literature, Kathleen Horning, Director of the Cooperative Children's Books Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In the 2010 revised edition of From Cover to Cover: Evaluating and Reviewing Children's Books, she quotes the book's opening sentences ("Erk, erk, erk" etc. through "Where was their mother?"). She writes, "Laurence Pringle is a master at writing dynamic prose in his science books for children." She adds, "In spite of the simplicity of the language Pringle uses, he does not talk down to his young readers. His tone shows that he has respect for their intelligence."

The book's cover shows heads of an alligator and a crocodile (the same art as on page 15). Many people wonder how to tell these reptiles apart, and an expert reader helped, telling me that the nostrils are a big clue. They are close together in crocodiles, farther apart in alligators. I added a sentence and a label to emphasize that. Also, in my research--in books and scientific magazines--I had read that American alligators can grow to be 20 feet long. However, a Florida biologist who checked my writing, and the art, said that the largest were 15 1/​2 feet long. I trusted his judgment and experience, so the label on page 12 says 15 1/​2 feet!