Book Thoughts: Life Story: Snake

Life Story: Snake was a 1991 children’s nature book written by Michael Chinery, illustrated by Denys Ovenden, and with photography by Barrie Watts. This was one of the old books I had from when I was little. I decided to go through some of these old books again. This book went through all the stages of a snake’s life from beginning to end, using the North American corn snake as the example species. The book covered snake physical attributes, movement, molting, eating, mating, and birth.

I found it interesting that they didn’t do the life stages chronologically. That seemed more logical to me. Start with the baby snakes and show how they grow up and do different things. This book instead started with what kids (the readers) might know already and slowly moved beyond that on each page to reveal more. Maybe the way it was written was easier for kids to understand.

The text was in really big fonts. I would guess the font was around 16 point, so it was pretty easy on the eyes. This probably made it a good book for parents to read to their children. If you have to hold a book far away so two or more can see the pages, it’s better to have a large font to be able to read from a distance.

I liked the pattern they had with every two pages. The left page had a few short paragraphs and a snake illustration. The right side always had a full size snake photograph. The reader first saw the clear illustration to reinforce the writing. Then they could see what it looked like in reality. I liked this three step process. The reader was slowly eased from possibly confusing writing (for new, young readers) to a clear illustration of the snake to how it appears in the world around them.

Despite the writing being for kids, I still found the book interesting again when I reread it to write these thoughts. I read a lot about animals as a kid, so nothing in the book was new. It was a fun refresher though. I remember going to the zoos, parks, and science clubs to pet the snakes. I was fascinated with them because they were so different from humans. I even sometimes picked up garter snakes around the house or at parks, something my mom never ceased to worry about. Like all mothers, she was worried the snake would bite me and maybe give me an infection or disease.

I think Life Story: Snake was part of a series with other books featuring other animals. I never got any of the other books though. I’m sure I would have liked them, but I was always taught to value the things I had. My parents didn’t have much money many times during my childhood. I learned to only ask for things for my birthday or Christmas. The rest of the year I always welcomed gifts from my parents but never expected them. I got many things over the years that were parts of bigger sets and usually never got the whole set, but I was still happy.

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