Garter Snake at Willow Creek Lane by Janet Halfmann and illustrated by Anne Wertheim, the newest in Smithsonian’s Backyard Book series, is an engaging overview of one season in the life of Garter Snake.
The text models a fiction format with the Garter Snake being the main character who experiences rising conflict, which keeps the story interesting and memorable. The story starts dramatically with Garter Snake’s birth on the first page (yes, some snakes give birth rather than lay eggs). She overcomes several challenges that include encounters with Bingo the dog, but all ends well with her finding a safe, warm place to overwinter. In between, the reader learns a great deal about the life history of garter snakes in general, including what they eat and how they defend themselves. Note: there is a scene where Garter Snake plays dead, which might be slightly disturbing to sensitive children.
Anne Wertheim’s bright illustrations illuminate the page. The close-up versions of Garter Snake looks like she is going to slither right off the page.
We read the larger softcover version, which is a perfect size to share with others, but Soundprints provides the book in variety of options. You can download an audio version. The book also comes in a “microbook” format, with a plush toy snake. We have several of the microbooks from the series. They are 5 7/8 inches by 4 3/4 inches, a size which is definitely attractive to youngsters with little hands.
Garter Snake at Willow Creek Lane is just what you would expect from the high-quality Smithsonian Backyard series, sure to inspire children to learn more about snakes and nature in general. With so many options, I’m sure you can find a version that fits your needs.
We previously reviewed Little Black Ant on Park Street from the same series.
Make a snake craft and learn more about garter snakes at Growing With Science.
Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Soundprints (July 15, 2011)
This book were supplied by the publisher for review purposes.
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