Zoologist and subject expert Nicola Davies’ success with Tiny: The Invisible World of Microbes in the picturebook category of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Excellence in Science prize is proven to be richly deserved. This book in the same Nature Storybook series looks a strong candidate for shortlisting next year.
As a picturebook, I Don’t Like Snakes has a classic storyline gently but thoughtfully showing how children can be helped to explore and resolve their fears. Luciano Lozano’s mixed media drawings are expressive and perfectly capture the mood of the story as the heroine, aided by her family, works through her dislike of snakes, eventually coming to realise how marvellous and amazing they are. A minor niggle for this reader is that a child who has grown up in a family that keeps snakes is unlikely to overcome her fears in this way.
But this book is more than a picturebook helping children confront their fears. Davies and Lozano have created a wonderful non-fiction introduction to snakes; each time the page is turned the reader finds out new things including why snakes move the way they do, what they eat and how they hunt and kill their food. Neither writer nor illustrator take the easy route when explaining a snake’s place in the animal kingdom and Lozano’s detailed but non-threatening illustrations are fascinating and enhance the reader’s understanding of the text. A gently challenging and emotionally rewarding read for the older child that will be returned to again and again.