As a dad blogger, I feel like something really should be said about this book:

We picked it up at Barnes & Noble – my son wanted a snake book – Bargain priced at $9.98. It’s a 180 pages, so it’s fairly thick book. Obviously it was a great deal.

But more recently I’ve had a chance to take a look and it’s different from what one might expect. Very different.

At the turn of almost every page there is a new snake or reptile species to learn about. It includes a “Did you know” set of interesting trivia about the species, a map of where in the world and a nice big picture of the creature. So far so good. And so far just like so many other kinds of helpful animal books.

But, dear parent, try reading one of these pages. Oh, wow, you might think, turning to a page at random, this particular snake is quite dangerous – look at that screaming young man, who is being bitten by it.  This image is a little troubling, so you turn the page and – Oh, my, here’s another one, who can jump out of his cage and attempt to swallow the face of the unsuspecting snake wrangler who unwarily opened the lid. Okay, I’ll try to keep my eight year old from reading those two pages.

Now here’s another and, Dang, I’m really getting bad luck. Here’s a young lady who innocently tried to pick up some fire wood from a pile and now she’s screaming in agony with a Coral snake latched onto her ring finger.

I can honestly say that after looking at this book several times, I have not found a single non-disturbing page. Every snake has a story about how it caught someone unawares.

I was intrigued by this and wondered if this book was on Amazon and what the reviews were like. I was not disappointed. But apparently many reviewers were after getting this book. Nearly half of the reviews are one star.

One reviewer calls the authors, “ghouls”. The reviews have titles like, “Please don’t buy this” and “Terrible book for children”.

I quote from one review:

“DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK. Here is an example of the nauseating story-telling: “Racked with pain as the terrible venom eats away at his flesh, the fisherman casts off. As he drifts out to sea he cuts the bite wounds and tries to suck out the venom, but soon collapses into unconsciousness. He bleeds to death long before anyone spots his boat, and is found sprawled in a pool of his own blood.” This fictitious incident involving a Fer-de-lance snake is the stuff of children’s nightmares. In reality, the Fer-de-lance is a reclusive creature that plays an important role in its natural environment …”

I can only imagine that there is some dad who has a child who’s irrationally afraid of snakes and thinks, “I could buy him/her a book about snakes. Maybe that would demystify them and show them how helpful and non-dangerous they are.” Heaven help the parent who buys this book with that purpose in mind.

Seriously, you should have a healthy fear of snakes and you should have a healthier fear of this book.

By the way, I checked and as far as I can see, the Garter Snake, which Wikipedia describes as “single most widely distributed genus of reptiles in North America” and is mostly harmless, is not in this book. Hmmm.

Update: Bethyada mentioned in a comment that his son would love this book. Yes, I had been thinking that. There are some boys who are: This book has scary in it? I love scary! Bring me the scary! This book would be great for them. But perhaps not for their sister.

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