Cover image for The missing 'gator of Gumbo Limbo : an ecological mystery
The missing 'gator of Gumbo Limbo : an ecological mystery
George, Jean Craighead, 1919-2012.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : HarperCollins, 1992.
Physical Description:
148 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Sixth-grader Liza K., one of five homeless people living in an unspoiled forest in southern Florida, searches for a missing alligator destined for official extermination and studies the delicate ecological balance keeping her outdoor home beautiful.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.6 4.0 8539.

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Vanished? Liza Poole lives with her mother in one of the last balanced ecosystems in North America -- the Gumbo Limbo Hammock deep within the lush kingdom of the Florida Everglades. Some may think it strange to live outdoors, but Liza feels lucky to live it strange to live outdoors, but Liza feels lucky to live in her small yellow tent amidst tropical birds and exotic plants. And at the center of this natural paradise lies Dajun, the majestic alligator who protects Gumbo Limbo's environment. Then, one day, a state official arrives with frightening orders. Dajun is scaring people nearby -- he must be killed! Liza takes action to save the invaluable 'gator, but suddenly, he is nowhere to be found. Now, she must find Dajun before it's too late, and her search will lead her into the heart of an exciting eco mystery!

Author Notes

Jean Craighead George was born on July 2, 1919 in Washington, D.C. She received degrees in English and science from Pennsylvania State University. She began her career as a reporter for the International News Service. In the 1940s she was a member of the White House press corps for The Washington Post.

During her lifetime, she wrote over 100 novels including My Side of the Mountain, which was a 1960 Newbery Honor Book, On the Far Side of the Mountain, Julie of the Wolves, which won the Newbery Medal, Julie, and Julie's Wolf Pack. She also wrote two guides to cooking with wild foods and an autobiography entitled Journey Inward. In 1991, she became the first winner of the School Library Media Section of the New York Library Association's Knickerbocker Award for Juvenile Literature. She died on May 15, 2012 at the age of 92.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 5-7. Liza and her mother are among the unusual homeless people living in a pristine forested area in the Florida Everglades, where Dajun, a 12-foot alligator, clears the nearby hole (freshwater pond) of the destructive blue green algae, maintaining the delicate natural balance. When an armed official hired to eliminate Dajun arrives, Liza and the others scheme to protect the animal and their private sanctuary. Although the story has neither the fine prose nor the tight plotting of George's best works (such as On the Far Side of the Mountain), this tale, which looks at contemporary problems, is sprinkled with fascinating description and explanation of the Everglades ecology. George's strong homeless characters are purposeful, and her respect for them makes the reader respect them as well. There is Priscilla, afraid of walls, who collects miniature gin bottles for hummingbird feeders, and James James, an expert on PCPs and other water pollutants, who discovers the drinking water is threatened and alerts the local government, offering solutions. Even Liza's mother, who works nights and goes to college during the day, helps demonstrate that there are many reasons for homelessness and many ways to function in society. Although the ending is a bit too tidy, the novel encourages a new appreciation of our natural resources. (Reviewed June 1, 1992)006020396XDeborah Abbott

School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. ix
1 Missingp. 1
2 The Woods Peoplep. 15
3 The Pit and the Lake and the Holep. 32
4 Water Cluesp. 48
5 Map Cluesp. 65
6 Complicationsp. 80
7 The Red Featherp. 96
8 The Word of Sherlock Holmesp. 111
9 Resolvedp. 128