Dory Story book cover image

Dory Story

  • 1795

By: Jerry Pallotta / Illustrated by: David Biedrzycki

Be prepared for a few surprises when Danny ventures out into the bay in his dory.

Although taking the dory out solo is strictly forbidden, Danny cannot resist the calm waters of the bay. And that's where the adventure begins. He thinks rowing into a school of bluefish is trouble enough, but wait until the whales enter the picture. Danny encounters one sea creature after another and learns about the ocean food chain in the process. Just when you think you know what's going to happen next, the story takes an unexpected twist.

With brilliant and vibrant illustrations, readers will feel the excitement of being out on the water surrounded by ocean creatures. The life and the life cycle of the ocean will fascinate young readers.

Look Inside the Book:

Author & Illustrator Bios:

Jerry Pallotta, author

Jerry Pallotta is an award-winning author of children's alphabet books and imaginative fiction. He combines interesting facts, detailed research, humor, and realistic illustrations that mesmerize children everywhere.

Jerry spent his teenage years in the fishing town of Scituate, Massachusetts, where he kept lobster traps, harvested seaweed, and rode on fishing draggers. He wanted to share the creatures of the seashore with his children but could not find an alphabet book that was fun and exciting. This inspired him to write his first book, The Ocean Alphabet Book, which presented oceanic creatures in a creative format.

Read more about Jerry.

David Biedrzycki, illustrator

David Biedrzycki has been creating illustrations for book publishers, advertising agencies, magazines, and design firms since 1980. His art has graced the cover of KidSoft magazine, New England Aquarium billboards and children's software packaging, such as "The Amazon Trail" and "Odell Down Under." His clients include Celestial Seasonings®, After the Fall Juices(tm), IBM, and Newsweek.

David has collaborated with children's author Jerry Pallotta on The Beetle Alphabet Book, The Boat Alphabet Book, and The Freshwater Alphabet Book. David is the author/illustrator of the Ace Lacewing, Bug Detective series as well as the Me and My Dragon series.

Read more about David.

Awards & Honors:

  • Early Childhood News Directors' Choice Award
  • Read, America! Collection
  • The Yankee Magazine 100: Classic New England Children's Books
  • 2001 Children's Books Mean Business
  • IRA/CBC Children's Choices
  • The Original Art 2000 - Society of Illustrators

Editorial Reviews:

Booklist, starred review

When Danny discovers some bioluminescent plankton, his imagination is fired. So he takes out the family dory and heads for the bay to learn about ocean life. Danny discovers krill eating plankton, eels eating krill, mackerels eating eels, bluefish eating mackerels, tuna eating bluefish, and huge orcas eating tuna! Finally, a humpback whale (a plankton feeder) breaches near Danny, bringing the food web full circle. When a passing orca swamps the dory, Danny must swim hard for safety. Will he become part of the food web? Suddenly, he hears his mother's voice--and we learn that the whole adventure has been one big fish story, enacted by Danny from the safety of his bathtub. Pallotta's kid-friendly narration carries readers neatly through events that are exciting and informative. Biedrzycki's beautifully rendered spreads contribute mightily to the book's strength. His sea creatures are exquisitely drafted in colors that turn from bright and friendly to deep and ominous. There is almost a photographic reality to the art, with young Danny looking especially true to life. A book that captures the sense of adventure, awe, and danger that the ocean inspires while presenting a solid bit of marine ecology.

Kirkus Reviews

Who is next in the ocean food chain? Pallotta has a surprising answer in this picture book glimpse of one curious boy.

Danny, fascinated by plankton, takes his dory and rows out into the ocean, where he sees shrimp eating those plankton, fish sand eels eating shrimp, mackerel eating fish sand eels, bluefish chasing mackerel, tuna after bluefish, and killer whales after tuna. When an enormous humpbacked whale arrives on the scene, Danny's dory tips over and he has to swim for a large rock or become--he worries--someone's lunch. Surreal acrylic illustrations in vivid blues and red extend the story of a small boy, a small boat, and a vast ocean, in which the laws of the food chain are paramount. That the boy has been bathtub-bound during this entire imaginative foray doesn't diminish the suspense, and the facts Pallotta presents are solidly researched.

A charming fish tale about the one—the boy—that got away.

School Library Journal

The inviting cover features a life-jacketed boy standing in a red dory surrounded by a summer-blue sky and deep-blue sea, encircled by ominous dorsal fins. Disobeying parental admonitions to never go out in the boat alone, the narrator rows out into the peaceful bay to learn more about ocean life. What follows is an account of the aquatic food web. The child observes killer whales eating tuna eating bluefish eating mackerels eating sand lances eating shrimp eating plankton. When he spies the killer whales, he fears he may soon be part of the food chain himself. A fleeing tuna capsizes the dory, and the boy heroically swims through the ravenous sea. As he reaches a rock, the narrative is interrupted by his mother's voice. The last spread shows him safe and sound in a bubble bath with toy dory and fish in hand. "Danny, you tell the best stories when you're in the bathtub! You should write a book." Clever as Pallotta's idea is, the textual flow does not succeed as well as the luminous acrylic paintings do. Biedrzycki's striking art will guarantee this book an audience. The representational style with its pleasing variety of perspectives has a decided edge toward the surreal. Children are sure to lust after their own red dories.

I just finished reading Dory Story to my 3 children (ages 2, 4 and 6), and am able to report that the book is a big hit (at least with the older kids). Written by Jerry Pallotta and illustrated by David Biedrzycki, the book tells the story of a young boy who sets off in a wooden dory from an undisclosed Northeast beach to explore the ocean (against the wishes of his parents, of course). He does just that, and gets more than he bargained for.

But the book is more than a tale of youthful independence and adventure; it also teaches young readers about the marine world and its unsentimental, sometimes violent web of life. And perhaps that’s what appealed to my kids—the unsweetened story of real animals eating and being eaten. No anthropomorphizing here. The story is entertaining and educational, and the illustrations by Biedrzycki are beautiful and display a careful study of Northeast ocean creatures (not to mention wooden dories).


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ISBN: 978-0-88106-075-1

ISBN: 978-0-88106-076-8

E-book PDF
ISBN: 978-1-60734-196-3
For information about purchasing E-books, click here.

Ages: 4-8
Page count: 32
11 x 9

If you like this book, you’ll enjoy these:
Going Lobstering
The Boat Alphabet Book