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Monday, December 1, 2008

How 'Bout Giving Rattlesnake Jam to Your Kids for Christmas


Rattlesnake Jam

By Margot E. Finke
Illustrations by Kevin Scott Collier
Guardian Angel Publishing, Saint Louis, MO USA
E-Book ISBN 13: 978-1-935137-24-5
Print ISBN 13: 978-1-935137-00-9
Copyright: MAY 2008
Paperback, 28 pages, $10.95
Ages 4 & Up



Reviewed by Mayra Calvani for Blogcritics and others.


Rattlesnake Jam is a hilariously funny children’s picture book about an old couple who share an irresistible affection for rattlesnakes. There’s only one problem: While Pa would rather have the rattlesnakes turned into fritters or pie, old Gran prefers them turned into jam, disgustingly green, sweetened, gooey rattlesnake jam!

So no matter how cold the weather is, there goes brave Pa hunting after the snakes. And as he hunts them, he fantasizes about the various ways Gran could cook them—hot on a plate, fried, sliced on white rice, hmmm… But no way will his dreams ever become a reality, for as readers will learn “…snake cooked for Pa was not in Gran’s plan. She dreamed of them sweetened and made into jam.” Though Gran swears her special jam can cure colds, gout and wheeze, not to mention “troublesome knees”, everyone dislikes the taste of her ghastly creation. Will Gran ever stop? And what would happen to Pa, if she ever did?

Colliers’s colorful, wacky illustrations complement Finke’s humorous rhyme perfectly. Gran is grossly comical with her toothless grin, warts, bell pepper nose, and tough exterior. The reader will feel sorry for Pa, who seems completely under Gran’s control. The book has 28 pages in all, and each story page has an illustration with a short text at the bottom—a two or four line rhyme, like this one:


Drop in chunky slices, stir well with a spoon.

Add mysterious spices! Gran hummed a wild tune.

The way to Gran’s heart was through rattlers galore—

Making rattler jam bubble, ‘till it flowed on the floor.

The song-like cadence will be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. Snakes are reptiles that inspire both fear and fascination, especially in children, and it was clever of the author to use them as victims instead of villains in this book. This is a fine addition to Finke’s series of rhyming books about animals. Whimsical and amusing, Rattlesnake Jam is one of those books young children will beg their parents to read to them again and again.

Link to Gran's Kitchen:

http://mysite.verizon.net/mfinke/Rattler%20Recipies.htm#recipy Where kids will find gen-u-i-n-e rattler recipes their mom can cook - first catch your rattler though!!



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The New Book Review is blogged by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, founder of Authors' Coalition (www.authorscoalitionandredenginepress.com). It is a free service offered to those who want to encourage the reading of books they love. That includes authors who want to share their favorite reviews and reviewers who'd like to see their reviews get more exposure and readers who want to shout out praise of books they've loved. Please see submission guidelines on the left of this page. Reviews and essays are indexed by author names, reviewer names, and review sites. Writers will find the index handy for gleaning the names of small publishers, illustrators and more.

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