Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Sun-dappled watercolors illuminate this ecologically minded prose poem. A boy captures a snake (``no bigger around than a pencil'') and takes it home, where it slithers free, into unknown territory. McNulty presents the domestic terrain from the snake's perspective: claws of cats and snouts of vacuum cleaners are local predators, and human feet are always near. By chance, the boy returns the snake to its natural habitat, where he realizes both the snake's beauty and his own cruelty. Rand's illustrations quicken the narrative with their deft suggestion of motion. Some compositions approximate still lives (a sewing basket, a jumble of shoes) but for the snake's flicker of movement, while others surge with activity. Especially attractive are riverbank scenes in muted greens and earth tones; in these the promise of a summer day is very nearly tangible. Ages 3-8. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Deborah Zink Roffino
Here's a familiar scenario: boy meets snake, boy captures snake, snake escapes in house, mom not real happy. Realistic water colors tell the tale from a serpent's eye level, as the slithery one slinks around the crevices of the home, trying to regain his freedom.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-In this environmental-awareness piece, a young boy goes out on a hunting expedition, convinced that ``anything alive would be exciting to catch.'' He traps a sleeping grass snake in a jar and takes it home, much to his mother's dismay. The reptile escapes and slithers through the house in search of its wild environs. Instead, it encounters the indoor dangers of rugs, household chemicals, vacuum cleaners, and a cat. Its flight to freedom and the happy ending are a little too pat to be completely credible, but the story is effective overall. The message of appreciating animals in their natural habitats as opposed to trapping them for use as toys or pets comes through clearly without being heavy-handed. The book is saved from preachiness by the light adventure of the snake searching for an exit route and by Rand's engaging artwork. The full-page, full-color illustrations are sure to delight readers, particularly the scenes with the cat. Some of the outdoor scenes are somewhat sentimentalized, but are visually appealing. The text, too, borders on the saccharine at times. This isn't a necessary purchase, but it is entertaining and attractive. Keith Baker's Hide and Snake (Harcourt, 1991) presents a runaway snake in a more playful, less philosophical manner.-Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Library, WI
Janice Del Negro
A boy catches a garter snake by a pond and brings it home in a jar. The snake escapes into the house and spends several days "searching for a way out, a way back to the pond." Eventually, the snake hides in a fishing basket that the boy takes down to the water. When the snake emerges, the surprised boy picks it up: "There was so much power in its tiny body; its will to be free was so strong, that the boy, in amazement, let go." The text and watercolors tell the story from the point of view of the snake, giving the tale an unusual twist, and the large typeface and bright supporting paintings will appeal to young readers as much as the suspenseful, satisfying story.