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Reading Dogs and Writing Snakes You Say?

What the Snakes WroteIn a picture book, any scenario you can imagine – and even those beyond your wildest dreams – can come to life. In What the Snakes Wrote ($9.95, Firefly Books, Ages 5-8), a farm dog named Rufus befriends a big family of snakes that slither and arrange themselves into letters and words to send messages. Rufus, being the friendly, helpful canine that he is, runs to the rescue of the snakes as they post different messages calling for help. He even tries to get the attention of the farmer when the snakes need more assistance than he alone can give. But the farmer is busy and just doesn’t notice what’s going on. When the snakes are in real deep trouble, will Rufus be able to save the day?

Snakes

The story, by author Hazel Hutchins, is original and the message is one of literacy. I like the fact that even though the story is not reality (i.e. snakes cannot write and dogs cannot read) in the back of the book the author provides two pages of interesting true facts about snakes. The cheerful illustrations are cartoon-like, and I love the way illustrator Tina Holdcroft depicts the snakes as they form words.

Reading What the Snakes Wrote with your children, is the perfect time to broach the subject of the importance of being able to read and communicate. It also opens the door to further exploration of the fascinating world of snakes. And it is just a really cute story.

– Reviewed by Debbie Glade

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Slithering Snake Science

Debbie Glade pursues her thirst for scientific knowledge with this great book from Chicago Review Press.

Once again, I find myself with an amazing non-fiction children’s book from Chicago Review Press on my lap that I can’t put down. Awesome Snake Science: 40 Activities for Learning About Snakes ($14.95, Chicago Review Press, ages 9 -12) by author and naturalist, Cindy Blobaum, helps children appreciate these intriguing reptiles that are so often feared.

Like all other Chicago Review Press books for kids I’ve read, parents and teachers will benefit greatly from reading this book too. Readers learn about different species of snakes, where to find them, the anatomy of them, how they survive, why and how they strike and how they defend themselves.  Even the squeamish can appreciate learning fascinating facts such as this: It is common for snake teeth to get stuck in the animal it is eating and fall out, but since snakes can grow new teeth any time they need them, this is not a problem. Or how about this one? If the temperature of a snake’s body dips below 60 degrees Fahrenheit while food is in his stomach, the food will not digest. Rather it will simply rot, which may in turn poison the snake.

In addition to becoming a young herpetologist, readers can enjoy many different activities from making a research journal and making a snake spine to seeing through a snake’s eyes and testing your own tongue. All the activities use materials that are easy to find in your home and do not require any slithering thing (such as a real snake). There are wonderful photographs and illustrations throughout the book as well.

This book is a hit in many ways, but most importantly it works because it teaches readers to think like scientists, inspiring them to seek out the true facts about snakes. In turn this may help alleviate some of the fears they have about these slithering creatures and make them want to learn more. And perhaps they will one day become scientists themselves.

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