by Melissa Stewart
The hiss of a snake is enough to scare a hearer into hiding. It is an automatic response — run first, decide later whether the snake is poisonous or not. So the book (part of the National Geographic Kids series) is adorned with glorious, colorful photos to entice the young reader to get past the fear and read about this interesting animal.
Snakes are reptiles. They are cold-blooded, which means that their body temperature is the same as the temperature of their surroundings. So they have to stay in the sun to warm themselves, and move to the shade to cool down.
Did you know that some snakes have more than a 1000 bones? The illustration of a many-boned snake skeleton makes it look like a harmless slinky.
Another interesting fact explains why some snakes move with that sideways slithering motion. Snakes don’t have legs. They have wide scales, called scutes, on their belly that help them to slither forward. However scutes can’t grip soft sand or grass, so on those surfaces snakes move by throwing themselves sideways.
The book is organized in short chapters, filled with interesting facts. The most fascinating to a second grade reader would be that a snake sheds its skin. A snake never stops growing. When its skin feels tight the snake rubs its head against a rock and the skin splits apart. The snake just slithers out. What a great read-aloud that would be!
Small boxes, entitled Word-s-s explain difficult words. Sssslimy riddles adorn the top of the page, for example:
Q. If a snake went to school what would its favorite class be?
It is a colorful book full of interesting facts presented at a second grade level.