"SLINKY, SCALY, SLITHERY SNAKES" by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent


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Striking graphics and a spare, readable text will have young readers snatching up this snake book by this prolific and talented science writer. Without any wasted words, she describes how some of the 2,500 species of snakes hunt, hide, eat, reproduce, and move. Patent states, "There is nothing extra about a snake." And then goes on to explain how different snakes find, catch, swallow their prey, and avoid being someone else's lunch. She introduces the pit viper, which subdues its prey with poison, and the boa constrictor, which squeezes its prey to death. She explains how some snakes hide with camouflage and others "play dead." Patent notes the damage snakes can do when introduced into new environments, for instance, the brown tree snake introduced into Guam that decimated much of the bird and bat population—but points out that most snakes are useful, eating insects and pests. Snakes are referred to by their common name in the text, but an index supplies the scientific name for each. However, when three red-, yellow-, and black-banded snakes appear on the same page, it is hard to determine which is the poisonous coral snake, and which the harmless king snake. Information on the geographic range is only provided on the end papers with a world map. Dramatic illustrations by Jubb are boldly colored, though somewhat lacking in precision. Snakes lunge, leer, writhe, and slide in and out of pages. It is often hard to tell where these snakes begin or end. Often four or five different snakes will appear on the same page, though in nature they are found in very different regions and habitats. Black and orange, green and gold, blue and black, these snakes are more decorative than authentic. Young readers will need to look elsewhere for a field guide, but this is a good introduction and attractive for browsing. (Nonfiction. 8-10)

ISBN: 0802776523
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Walker