Slinky, Scaly Snakes! by Jennifer Dussling is the most fascinating book I’ve ever read about the creatures. Of course I realize that as a Level 2 DK Reader designed for children who are beginning to read alone, it’s written for a much younger audience (my children think it’s neat too). The high-interest, action-filled photographs of snakes going about their business make this one title not to miss in your collection of readers.
Featuring large, easy to read print, DK’s Level 2 readers contain a simple index, longer sentences with increased vocabulary, and information boxes full of facts. Each page typically contains two to four sentences of Dussling’s narrative that accompanies bright, bold photography of snakes at work. The blend of 70% pictures and 30% text helps young readers move ahead without getting bogged down.
Not for the faint of heart, but excellent for the morbidly curious (this means little boys, my nature-loving daughters, and me), Slinky, Scaly Snakes! goes where few books have gone before. Not only are photographs of a variety of species present, along with the necessary snapshots of shedding skin, but also fascinating step-by-step photo montages are also included of snakes devouring their prey.
A boa constrictor is shown swallowing a rat in stages; a rattlesnake is shown injecting poison into its prey; a rock python is captured in the act of swallowing a gazelle; and another snake is shown squeezing a small rodent to death. I’m firmly convinced that these fascinating –- if somewhat macabre –- photo spreads are what will keep young readers returning to this book time after time.
A series of photographs depicts each step of the egg-eating process, from the monumental feat of swallowing an egg whole, to displaying the distended body of the snake, and best of all — the shell and snake-spit that are ejected once the egg breaks inside the snake and is consumed. Hard to find pictures of a snake laying eggs, baby snakes hatching, and a snake playing dead round out the terrific selection of “up close and personal” snaps.
Dussling doesn’t focus entirely upon the bodily functions of snakes (however fascinating they may be). She also briefly explores the role snakes play in the ecosystem, and in the development of medicines. Snake habitats, method of locomotion, camouflage, and senses are all covered in the text, with additional facts included on the “Snake Facts” page at the book’s end. One brief mention of an evolutionary theory presented as fact is included in one of the call-out information boxes.
With such high-interest photographs revealing the fascinating world of these slithering reptiles Slinky, Scaly, Snakes! is a perfect choice for engaging reluctant readers who have a fondness for creepy-crawlies. While certainly not for young and old sufferers of ophidiophobia (fear of snakes), this fascinating title has certainly found a permanent home in our collection.