Study Guide

Alligator Bayou Writing Style

By Donna Jo Napoli

Writing Style

Simple, Simply Descriptive


There is nothing complicated about the way Calo talks or thinks as the narrator of this story. His sentences are easy to follow and typically short. The most interesting and least simple part of this book is the dialogue, but even with Sicilian accents, broken English, and southern dialect, the writing style stays simple. Here's about as complicated as things get:

"Goat go where goat go. Is nature. Is how God want. Who can prevent?" Francesco shrugs. "Not me." (5.56)

Yup—nothing tricky going on here at all.

Simply Descriptive

Just because the book is written simply, though, doesn't mean it isn't descriptive too. The description just stays, well, simple—and in doing so, fits right in with the general style of the book and the dialogue that appears in it. In other words, there's just enough description to picture things—often scenery—pretty well. Here's an example:

We walk along this side of the canebrakes through the vines and creepers that hang from the trees, trailing all the way to the water. A bark comes from the top of a tree up ahead. A black squirrel races down the trunk and jumps on something white—old antlers. (9.43)

The description is written in simple language, and unrolled in a sort of step-by-step narration style from Calo's point of view. We understand his surrounding well enough to get into the scene, but at no point do we get lost in lush scenery descriptions. The sentences are quite short and simply constructed, which is great for a younger adult reader.

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