Gator, Gator, Second Grader (Classroom Pet ... or Not?)

Conrad J. Storad_3.jpg
Conrad J. Storad_3.jpg

Gator, Gator, Second Grader (Classroom Pet ... or Not?)


By Conrad J. Storad, Illustrated by Alex Lopez

Many creatures make great classroom pets, but others just DO NOT! That's what the teacher says, anyway! When second graders Benny and Jacob bring a baby alligator to school in a cardboard box, their teacher, Mrs. Nichols, has an important message to share. A baby gator is NOT a good classroom pet! she explains. As an impromptu pet safari unfolds, Mrs. Nichols helps her students identify which creatures are suitable for school and which animals are better housed elsewhere! Her last-minute lesson soon leads to an exuberant naming game, with students clamoring to compare turtles with Gila monsters, hamsters with grizzly bears, and much more.

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Following the story, a well-researched curriculum guide captivates young readers, helping them develop a deeper respect for nature. Narrated by a beloved classroom pet nicknamed Snoozer, Gator, Gator, Second Grader cleverly draws young readers into the story from word one (Howdy!), making them feel like part of Mrs. Nichol's lively second grade classroom. As students compare and contrast a wide variety of animals, they quickly learn to recognize which creatures make good pets and which creatures do best in the zoo or in their natural habitats.

Paperback, perfect-bound. 48 pages.

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What folks are saying …

"Oh my goodness! Is it true? Is there really an alligator in the classroom? I don't think a second grade classroom is a good place for a gator. Do you?

There are all sorts of animals that make very good classroom pets, but there are others that simply are a bad idea. This is the story of one such classroom, all the pets that live there, and of the new pet that arrived one day. Told by Sue the gerbil, who prefers to be called Snoozer because, well, you know, she likes to sleep A LOT, and "translated from gerbilish to English" by author Conrad J. Storad, this is a silly, sweet, and fun story of just what makes a good classroom pet.

Snoozer begins by introducing the reader to all the animals that live in Mrs. Nichols' classroom. There's Lola the red knee tarantula, two white mice, a tank full of goldfish and oh yes, let's not forget about Nat the cat who visits the school and likes to peek through the windows at Snoozer and the other animals. All was well with the animals, and the students learned a lot about various creatures by watching/studying them. What could be better? But then one day Benny and Jacob came to school with a little surprise - a baby alligator! Some of the other kids thought the baby alligator was the absolute coolest creature to enter the classroom. Names were tossed around - what should they call the new addition to the class? Whoa! Wait a minute! Mrs. Nichols had to put a stop to this dangerous idea right away. A classroom was NO place for a baby alligator!

Gator, Gator, Second Grader is a wonderful introduction to the world of classroom pets. With the teacher's help, students, and readers, learn about what makes a good pet, and why an alligator is NOT a good idea. Once Mrs. Nichols explains the concept, the students take turns listing an animal that would make a good pet, followed by an animal that should be left in the wild. At the end of the story are over ten pages of additional facts, from proper hand washing after handling an animal, information on gerbils and alligators, the often confused alligator vs. crocodile quandary, plus a curriculum and activity guide. Add in the fantastic illustrations and there's no doubt that this book should be in every classroom!

Quill says: Gator, gator, you belong in the wild, not in a second grade classroom! Read and learn all about various animals in this charming book about just what makes a good pet."

Ellen Feld, Feathered Quill Book Reviews

Gator, Gator, Second Grader is a wonderful introduction to the world of animals and classroom pets for students. The book, while creative, captivating, and funny, is also very educational and provides a realistic look at what kind of animals belong in the classroom, while also teaching facts about them. The book will be an excellent tool for teachers to use in conjunction with a classroom pet. We are proud to list it on our website as one of the resources we recommend to teachers who apply for our educational grant program that supports classroom pets.”

Steve King, Executive Director, The Pet Care Trust/Pets in the Classroom

“Having taught grade two (my most favourite grade to teach of all) and been an elementary school librarian I certainly would have had this book in my classroom and library. The book teaches children how to respect nature through choosing pets that are suitable to live in a classroom environment.

The adorable gerbil narrator, Sue, nicknamed Snoozer because of her sleeping habits, is the perfect choice to invite, guide and teach your child all about the different animals that are featured candidates to reside in school.

The cover illustration is picture perfect as it entices the curious child to discover what possibly is housed inside that mysterious box with holes poked all through it and who owns that one big eye staring out into the world beyond. The illustrations are vibrant, expressive and marry with the text perfectly. The cartoonish animals show their personality traits and lots of visual learning occurs through studying the pictures alone.

Benny and Jacob, residents of grade two, bring a baby alligator to school in a cardboard box wondering if they can keep it amongst the multiple critters already living there. Mrs. Nichols, their smart and creative teacher, has the perfect teaching moment handed right to her. ‘Many creatures make great classroom pets, but others just DO NOT!’ ‘A baby alligator is NOT a good classroom pet!’ She then takes her class on a compare and contrast animal adventure sorting out which pets are suitable and which are not. The children, excited with the spontaneity of the moment, exuberantly join in as they put on their thinking caps to discern the answers their teacher is seeking.

The children learn a valuable lesson in proper pet etiquette for a classroom and after meaningful discussion and enlightenment I am sure the baby gator was taken back to its natural habitat in the wild where it belonged. The book has a comprehensive accompanying curriculum guide with language and pictures masterfully crafted for early elementary readers. Any caregiver, parent, teacher or librarian would be very proud to include this book in their collection. Highly recommended.”

Marilyn Panton, Storywraps

“If ever there was a book that needs to be in every elementary school classroom and in every home with children, it's this one! The Common Core-based curriculum and activity guide can be easily followed by teachers, librarians, and parents. My children enjoyed the story from beginning to end.”

Maria Mucino, Branch Manager, MLS, Guadalupe Branch Library, Maricopa County Library District

Gator, Gator, Second Grader (Classroom Pet…Or Not?) addresses a concern that many animal educators now face in today’s growing pet trade: what is a good pet and what is NOT? It is important for kids to learn from those of us who have been there. When I was a kid, I loved so many different species of animals and I begged for dozens to have as pets―from alligators and tokay geckos to creatures as crazy as wolverines and badgers―I used to beg my mom for them all! Thankfully, she would find a plush or rubber animal for me to care for instead but the fact remains that kids love animals and do not think about the challenges of keeping them as pets! 

Wild animals―from gators to bears―belong in the wild, plain and simple. But, kids don't always understand that. What's amazing about Gator, Gator, Second Grader is that it not only tells an entertaining story about kids and an alligator, it also explains why this reptile among others do not make good pets and suggests some animals that do make good household companions. 

As a kid, being told ‘No!’ is heartbreaking. However, being told ‘No, but here is another option...’ is brilliantly awesome! I think what really captivated me about reading this book, aside from the amusing story and beautiful illustrations, was the addition of animal facts, questions, and educational lessons provided at the end of the book which allows both parents and teachers to engage and educate the next generation of animal lovers.

I hope that Conrad J. Storad and Five Star Publications, Inc. have other books like this one on deck because not only is there a wild world of possibilities to be covered, there are also countless young, animal-enthusiasts to inspire with this style of education!”

Coyote Peterson, host of Breaking Trail

About the Author

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Conrad J. Storad is an award-winning author and editor of more than 50 science and nature books for children and young adults, including Monster in the Rocks, Gator, Gator, Second Grader (Classroom Pet…or Not?), the “USA Best Book” Rattlesnake Rules, and the ONEBOOKAZ for Kids 2012 selection Arizona Way Out West & Witty. He holds an undergraduate degree in mass media communication from the University of Akron and a master’s degree in mass communication/science journalism from Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. Storad resides in Ohio with his wife, Laurie, and their rescue wiener dog, Frankie. Learn more at