While reading book reviews for inclusion in our collection here at the
library, I came across an intriguing title. Patrick Jennings' "We Can't All
Be Rattlesnakes" certainly had a catchy name. As I read the book the first
time, I became so hooked I read it in one afternoon. Unusual? Yes. Funny?
Yes. Informative? Yes! Enjoyable? Yes! However, I may have trouble getting
one of my staff members to touch the book, as it has a snake on the cover.
(She hates snakes!)
One hot summer day in the desert, a gopher snake was hungry after
shedding her skin. She decided to curl up by a creosote bush and wait for a
tasty rodent to cross her path. Unfortunately, what crossed her path wasn't
lunch but a rather nasty, sweating, pudgy human boy child. Now, she gave him
some credit for intelligence because the boy child recognized right away
what she was. You see, many people mistake gopher snakes for rattlesnakes,
and although gopher snakes can have a painful bite, they are not venomous.
Because she just shed her skin, she was a mite slow. Unfortunately that
allowed the boy to catch her and take her home to live as one of his pets.
To add insult to injury, the boy names her Crusher, as he thought the snake
The story continues with the snake meeting the boy's other pets: a
tarantula, tortoise and lizard. From them she learns that the boy is
delighted with new pets but soon bores of them, often forgetting to care for
them properly. Crusher is appalled that the other reptiles seem so resigned
to their confinement. She is determined to somehow regain her freedom.
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Since the entire story is told from the perspective of the gopher
snake, the reader is treated to a view of the world that is slightly
unusual. We see how the snake considers living in "boxes inside of
boxes" (rooms inside houses) as peculiar for a wild animal. She
considers the boy smelly and "oily." When he tries to feed her a
dead mouse, she refuses to eat. When he gives her a live mouse, she
eventually befriends it. Her view of the video-addicted boy is quite
As the reader progresses through the story, we come to understand
the dynamics of the boy's family, realizing that much of his
behavior can be attributed to overindulgent and neglectful
parenting. Parents paying close attention to their son, rather than
ignoring him, would undoubtedly improve his behavior and
responsibility issues. While his parents love their son, what he
really wants is their time, just as the "pets" he brings home
desperately need the boy's attention for water, food and warmth once
they are removed from their natural habitats.
In fact, readers could consider "We All Can't Be Rattlesnakes" a
cautionary tale in many ways. It would be interesting to read and
discuss this story as a family. The short chapters and humor make
the book hard to put down and one that will be a favorite to reread
You can find this book along with other books about reptiles at
the Lincoln Public Library, 725 Pekin St. Come in and let us help
you find one just right for you.
[Text from file received from
Lincoln Public Library District]
(Ms. Lou's blog: