cover image A Snake in the House

A Snake in the House

Faith McNulty. Scholastic, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-590-44758-4

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.)