Study Guide

Alligator Bayou Genre

By Donna Jo Napoli


Young Adult; Historical Fiction

Young Adult

Pro tip: When a story features a young adult, you just might be reading a book that falls under the young adult literature genre. Go figure, right? And since this book is pretty much Calo's story, and Calo is fourteen, it definitely fits this criterion. The YA flavor is only added to by the fact that Calo is also our narrator—so we spend the whole story inside the mind of a young adult too. Another reason that this book falls under the young adult lit category is that, though historical, readers don't need to bring too much historical knowledge to the table to make sense of what's going on. Calo has plenty to sort out for himself about the times he's living in, and as he does, readers get all the information they need too.

Historical Fiction

Historical fiction doesn't just mean that a story is set in the past—it means it's set in the past and it's based, at least partially, on real things from way back in the day. Sometimes these are places, sometimes they're events, sometimes they're people—sometimes it's just an accurate depiction of a time period—but always included in historical fiction are elements of truth.

In Alligator Bayou, Napoli does readers a major solid and includes an afterward that tells us about the real people and events included in the novel, because many of them are not well known. If she had written about Abraham Lincoln, she wouldn't have had to do this since everyone knows about him—but luckily for us, Napoli instead chose to drive her fiction into lesser-known territory. It makes for an exciting—and informative—read.

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