Purpose of this Blog...

You may have noticed that not all books are equal in capturing children's imaginations and in cultivating those innocent, tender souls. My goal is to help you find the ones that do!
(Painting by Mary Cassatt: "Mrs Cassatt Reading to her Grandchildren" -1888)

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Tomorrow is the start of the Chinese New Year, the "year of the snake"! The Chinese calendar follows the moon and divides the years into groups of twelve. Each year is named for an animal, and people born in that year are believed to share the different traits of that specific animal. The SNAKE is the sixth sign of the Chinese zodiac, and represents wisdom, intelligence, and self-control. 
I'm honestly pretty squeamish about snakes.  Most that I've come across in children's literature are pretty mean - intelligent, yes, but not necessarily wise or full of self control!

  • Take for example "Asmodaeus Poisonteeth", from the Redwall series by Bryan Jacques - a giant adder who lived in an old sandstone quary near Redwall Abbey. When my husband would read aloud from the Redwall books to our kids, he'd always say "Aahhsssmodeussssss".
  • I'm sure most kids know about "Kaa", the Indian Python from Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Book.
  • More recently there is "Nagini", Voldemort's giant python, from J.K. Rowlings' Harry Potter books.

Thanks to some suggestions that I received on Facebook from The Animal Store Alphabet Book (who I'll be partnering with soon for a giveaway), I was able to find a few picture book snakes of the nice variety!

My Snake Blake, by Randy Siegel, illustrations by Serge Bloc.
"My Snake Blake isn’t creepy at all. Blake the Snake is a little boy’s perfect friend right out of a birthday-present box. He calms the boy’s alarmed mother, spelling out reassuring cursive words with his body, and shows himself to be of invaluable service: Blake knows all the boy’s homework answers; helps with batting practice; and even walks the dog, serving as both ­walker and leash. It’s a very boy-centric story; snake-loving girls - seeing the contrast between reluctant mother and eager father, son and male snake - might wish for a snake book of their own". [source, NYT Sunday Book Review - here]

How about this vintage classic - Crictor, by Tomi Ungerer...
“Once upon a time in a little French town…” Madame Louise Bodot received a boa constrictor in the mail. She named the boa constrictor Crictor, and it became her pet. Crictor is a delightfully absurd exposition about what it might be like to have a boa constrictor as a pet.

For a more realistic snake story, try Verdi, by Janell Cannon.
Young Verdi doesn’t want to grow up big and green. He likes his bright yellow skin and sporty stripes. Besides, all the green snakes he meets are lazy, boring, and rude. When Verdi finds a pale green stripe stretching along his whole body, he tries every trick he can think of to get rid of it - and ends up in a heap of trouble. Despite his efforts, Verdi turns green, but to his delight, he discovers that being green doesn’t mean he has to stop being himself. 

I hope you enjoy these snake stories - why don't you read them while you snack on some fortune cookies!  And look for this cute book by Grace Lin...
Fortune Cookie Fortunes, by Grace Lin.
"Crack, crack, crack!" The cookies snap open and the family’s fortunes are revealed. Mei Mei wants to know how hers will come true. Jie Jie scoffs—they never come true. But Pacy isn’t so sure. As she waits and watches, she notices magical things happening in her family.

Could the fortunes really be right? And what about Pacy’s fortune: “You will see the world in a new way”? Well, yes, it’s true! Pacy has been seeing the world through fortune cookies!

This exuberantly illustrated story about every kid’s favorite part of a Chinese meal also includes a brief history of the fortune cookie.


  1. I love Crictor!! I don't remember us reading the other two snake books, but they look like fun!

  2. Thanks for the mention. Great post about all things snaky.

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