cover image Small Green Snake

Small Green Snake

Libba Moore Gray. Orchard Books (NY), $15.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-531-06844-1

In this Peter Rabbit-esque cautionary tale, a mischievous young snake learns the hard way that wanderlust can be hazardous to his health. Gray (Fenton's Leap; Dear Willie Rudd) rouses the reader with her rhythmic, punched-up prose: ``I'm a grassy grassy/ garter snake/ a sassy sassy/ flashy flashy/ tail twisting/ tail turning/ tail snapping/green snake/ hiss a hiss/ a hiss a hiss/ a hisssssssss...'' Key words and phrases are rendered as part of Meade's (This Is the Hat) vibrant torn-paper collage artwork, accenting the book's bouncy beat. Bright green, blue and purple swatches, used to depict the garden and its activity, are outlined in white for dramatic visual effect. After an even more curious cat unwittingly frees the little snake from the glass jar in which a human has trapped him, the unrepentant serpent quickly convinces his siblings to slither off to new adventures across the garden wall. Despite some occasionally clumsy turns of phrase, the abundant use of onomatopoeia and bold, graphic artwork make this sibilant storybook a natural candidate for read-alouds. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)