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We've been trying to get out of the city and into nature most weekends (mask-clad and all). Earlier this month, we went for a hike at the Middlesex Fells. By Long Pond, we saw turtles, ducks, and this...amazing? terrifying? stop, you're both right! creature:

The kids were fascinated; the parents were...cautious. We stayed far away (TY camera zoom! photo by Ken Silber), and luckily the creature had no interest in us and stayed mostly curled up. When we got home, the children did some reasarch about snakes native to Massachusetts, then wrote to the Friends of the Fells with some questions ("school" assignment! win-win!). Turns out this is a Northern Watersnake, female, and can be aggressive ("While they will usually flee when agitated, they have been often known to turn and fight when disturbed," warned Jesse from Friends of the Fells). 

Find out more sssscintillating factsss about snakes (if you dare!) in Tracking Pythons: The Quest to Catch an Invasive Predator and Save an Ecosystem by Kate Messner; and the Guide/Reviews Database subject search: Animals--Snakes. (The Horn Book is free, electronically, for the duration; if you're asked for a login, follow these directions.) See also "Black Kids Camp, Too...Don't They?: Embracing 'Wildness' in Picture Books" by Michelle H. Martin.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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