The creators of The Gum Chewing Rattler (2006) concoct another outlandish episode with a twist in its tale.
A dog in all but body, the snake that follows the young narrator home one day becomes a nearly inseparable companion. He sleeps at the foot of the bed, waits at the gate on school days and once even sounds the alarm when a burglar breaks in (shades of Crictor). Furthermore, all efforts to ditch the reptile at the behest of the lad’s father and nervous neighbors come to naught; like the cat of the familiar folk song, the snake just comes back. Except for giving the rattler a big, doggy grin (or mournful, sad-dog face), the illustrator portrays figures and arid setting with fully appropriate, poker-faced realism. Ultimately the snake’s habit of chasing cars leads to its demise—depicted in a final view of it “lying there in the middle of the street” (in deference to more tender sensibilities, the victim appears to be sleeping rather than flattened) that sets up a groaner of a punch line.
A shaggy snake story certain to elicit hoots and hollers aplenty from young audiences. (Picture book. 6-8)