A RIVER OF DUST Written by Jilanne Hoffmann Illustrated by Eugenia Mello (Chronicle Books;…
I was so eager to read Python ($15.99, Candlewick Press, Ages 5-8) because I am fascinated with the pythons that have invaded the Florida Everglades near my home. In fact, my husband even participated in the 2013 Python Challenge hosted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (though he did not catch any snakes). These reptiles, which are not natural to Florida, have become a real threat to our native species as they have multiplied in large numbers and prey upon baby alligators, birds and many other species. Most are a result of people releasing their pet snakes into the wild when they can no longer care for them.
A photo I took several years ago in the Everglades. This time it was the gator who got the python, as he was protecting his (partially eaten) catch.
Now about the book . . .
Python author, Christopher Cheng, created a zoo mobile near his home in Sydney, Australia so native Australian animals could be transported to schools. What a wonderful way for students to learn about the species endemic to their region. Cheng also taught at a zoo for eight years, so it’s no wonder that Python is a most informative book.
In this story about how a female Australian Diamond Python spends her day, we learn about her habitat, diet, how she molts, lays eggs and so much more. Did you know that pythons do not crush their prey? They suffocate it, because it would be difficult for them to eat an animal with broken bones.
I was pleasantly surprised that the book even shows how a python catches and eats a rat. Although the targeted audience for the book is as young as age five, I think it’s important for readers to understand how animals in the wild survive even when it’s a bit unpleasant.
The watercolor illustrations by Mark Jackson are terrific. And in the back of the book is a page of fascinating facts about these snakes. There’s even an index. I love the fact that readers are introduced to so many words they’ve probably never seen before like: ectothermic; keratin; hatchlings and ambush.
Python is so informative as well as interesting to read and look at with its wonderful pictures. I am sure this book will get many kids interested in learning more about snakes in general and other critters that lurk in the wild.
– Reviewed by Debbie Glade