Monday, May 13, 2013

Nonfiction Monday: Python by Christopher Cheng and Mark Jackson

I can't remember where I saw this book recommended, but this Australian import definitely seems to have slipped below the radar.

Simple paragraphs follow a female python through her hunt for prey and her life cycle. She basks in the sun, sheds her skin, stalks prey and catches a meal. Eventually she lays and incubates her eggs and when they hatch she moves on.

Each spread also contains facts about pythons; when they python is stalking a rat, the story reads "The rat stops. He scratches the ground and moves a little closer, looking for seeds to eat. Python waits no longer. Dinner!" and the factoid section, in smaller print, says "Pythons are constrictors. A python doesn't crush its prey; instead it suffocates it. (Broken bones would make it harder to eat.)"

The art is mixed media, swirling colors and shapes someone on white backgrounds, some set in jungle-like settings. On the one hand, I prefer photographs in nonfiction and and illustrations are sometimes hard to decipher. On the other hand, given the number of annoyingly squeamish parents I have to deal with (yes, I know some people have a genuine fear of snakes but I personally can't help feeling that all that girly squealing is ridiculous and just because you are scared of snakes and spiders doesn't mean you have to pass down your own phobias to your children) a little blurriness in the artwork is a Good Thing.

This book reminded me a lot of Wolfsnail in the simple, matter-of-fact text following the basic habits of a single animal. It is a little more text-heavy, although still a perfectly good read-aloud and I'd probably use it with a slightly older audience.

Verdict: Buy this one for those snake-themed outreach visits to kindergartens and first grade classrooms. Unless you have less squeamish parents than I do, I'd think twice about using it in storytime, although the picture where the python eats the rat isn't really that gruesome.

ISBN: 9780763663964; Published 2012 by Candlewick; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Purchased for the library.

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