How Snake Got His Hiss: An Original Tale

Marguerite W. Davoll, Author, Marguerite W. Davol, Author, Mercedes McDonald, Illustrator
Marguerite W. Davoll, Author, Marguerite W. Davol, Author, Mercedes McDonald, Illustrator Orchard Books (NY) $14.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-531-09468-6
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
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This fanciful read-aloud will have preschoolers rolling-and eventually slithering-around on the floor in imitation of Snake's movements as he metamorphoses from a round creature to the reptile we know today as a result of his repeated run-ins with other species. Davol's engaging, intentionally repetitive tale also encourages youngsters to chime in as the narrative reiterates the various sounds Snake makes while his shape changes. Along his calamitous course, he manages to splash mud and give the hyena spots; make the lion's hair stand on end, mane-like; incite the monkey to chatter and leap from tree to tree, etc., which lends the story a diverting subplot. A final confrontation with an elephant not only pushes Snake's ""puffed-up Hup-Hup air right out of him,"" creating the title's hissing sound, but also sends him flying, stretching him to his familiar shape. Newcomer McDonald's motion-filled, stylized pastels, whose electric palette boldly defies the connotations of that medium, handily match the tale's exuberance. A whimsical design touch: the words describing the snake's movements and utterances are printed in various type sizes and configurations. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)
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