Saturday, March 14, 2020

Winter Reading 2020 Tracking Pythons: The Quest to Catch an Invasive Predator and Save an Ecosystem

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This book will appeal to both young readers and teachers. There are photos, QR codes that provide access to video clips of snakes and researchers in action, and plenty of details about the pythons and their impact on the Florida ecosystems they have invaded. Profiles and photos of the researchers are provided, along with details and photos about some of the MVPs (most valuable pythons) that are used by the program to help locate other snakes in the wild. Tips on responsible pet ownership are also included. Educators will be pleased with the helpful features such as sidebars on related topics (other invasive species stories, details of python anatomy, how radio telemetry works),  a timeline of the Burmese python invasion, source notes, and recommendations for further reading. I especially enjoyed the author's note in which Messner explained how a newspaper article aroused her curiosity and led to the writing of the book.

Highly recommended for middle grade readers. NOT for the squeamish or those who are frightened by snakes. The photos show close-ups of the snakes and details of necropsies (examining dead snakes for clues about their eating habits and other details). But those who love everything about snakes and other predators and don't mind, or even enjoy, the 'ick" factor - will love every page.

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