Venomous snakes are part of the ecosystem, but their bites endanger millions of people around the world every year—a global health crisis with a vicious circle of contributing factors.
Science writer Hofer (Washed Away by Floods, 2018, etc.) offers a comprehensive introduction that would be particularly suitable for high school students, especially given its extensive suggestions for further research. Drawing readers in with a dramatic medical situation in Benin, he goes on to describe the challenges of finding and providing remedies, major families of venomous snakes, the nature and purpose of venom, the production of antivenom, and international efforts to provide safe and effective treatment. He touches on the impact of climate change on snake habitats and the potential of venom to provide cures for other human diseases. The backmatter also includes a short guide to the venomous snakes of the United States. His exposition is clear and well-organized. The lively design includes snake-patterned upper margins, and there are some explanatory images and plentiful, well-captioned photographs which show a diverse range of professionals in the field. Pullout boxes add additional information. Drawing extensively on the work of Dr. Leslie Boyer, founding director of the VIPER Institute at the University of Arizona, the author provides interesting examples and needed background in context.
A welcome addition to a middle or high school library on a compelling subject. (source notes, glossary, selected bibliography, further information, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)