cover image The Girl Who Wore Snakes

The Girl Who Wore Snakes

Angela Johnson. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-531-05491-8

A classroom visit from a local zookeeper and a collection of animals awakens a girl's interest in snakes in this picture book by Do Like Kyla 's collaborators. Ali is so taken with Silvia, the snake that makes her think of ``the sun and the earth and everything in between,'' that she volunteers to let the reptile coil around her neck and arm and ankles during the class presentation. Eager for more contact, Ali purchases some smaller snakes of her own at the pet store, and continues to wear them as accessories. Her family can't understand Ali's preoccupation--until a visit with one of her aunts. Although Johnson fills her text with colorful imagery and poetic language, most of the elements in her story are farfetched (Ali's parents and teacher, for example, raise no objections to the girl's penchant for treating living creatures as part of her wardrobe). Ransome's trademark oil portraits glow with emotion and radiate warmth through rich brown, golden and orange tones, but they can't carry this enterprise. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)