Jean Craighead George wrote over one hundred books for children and young adults. Her novel Julie of the Wolves won the Newbery Medal in 1973, and she received a 1960 Newbery Honor for My Side of the Mountain. She continued to write acclaimed picture books that celebrate the natural world. Her other books with Wendell Minor include The Wolves Are Back; Luck; Everglades; Arctic Son; Morning, Noon, and Night; and Galapagos George.
Gr 5-7-- The brilliant beginning of this novel will put readers in eager anticipation. In a secluded part of the Florida Everglades live a homeless, abused mother who has escaped her husband's violence; her daughter, Liza; and a 12-foot alligator. A few other down-on-their-luck individuals also share this lovely, undisturbed ecological habitat--until the big, harmless gator named Dajun begins giving shivers to new condominium dwellers nearby. Thus, a government agent is sent to dispatch Dajun pronto; Liza and her wooded band hope to find him first to provide a hidden sanctuary. In the end, new beginnings emerge for all. Despite the knockout first chapters, the book's pace slows a bit in the middle. The find-the-alligator premise provides no actual sightings or near-misses until the end. The quiet clues that Liza uses to locate Dajun, however, will win over nature-loving readers as well as those whose fascination with the animal world is just beginning. As in Who Really Killed Cock Robin? (HarperCollins, 1991), George brings great authenticity and knowledge to her mystery settings. Although the story is not as strong as in The Talking Earth (HarperCollins, 1983), many readers will want to enter this Everglades adventure. --Amy Nunley, Toledo-Lucas County Public Library, OH
"Fascinating."-- "Chicago Sun-Times""Will win over nature-loving readers."-- "School Library Journal"