Rattlesnake Dance: True Tales, Mysteries, and Rattlesnake Ceremonies

Book review by
Tanya Smith, Common Sense Media
Rattlesnake Dance: True Tales, Mysteries, and Rattlesnake Ceremonies Book Poster Image
Gripping, first-rate storytelling.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

A nine-year-old girl faces death after being bitten by a rattlesnake.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that fascinating facts punctuate these first-person tales, which reassure that most snakebite victims survive.

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What's the story?

First-rate storytelling keeps readers on the edge of their seats as they follow the fate of a plucky nine-year-old snakebite victim. The author--the subject of the snakebite tale that opens the book--weaves true-life stories of her encounters with snakes in the American West with rattler lore and facts. Her fascination with--and respect for--rattlesnakes is infectious.


Is it any good?

Warning: Once readers fall under the spell of RATTLESNAKE DANCE, they'll have a hard time wrestling loose from its reptilian grip. The book's descriptive passages are as sharp as rattler fangs.

The autobiographical tales provide the perfect backdrop for amazing rattlesnake facts: Heart patients take rattlesnake venom as medication (it poses no danger when swallowed), human saliva is as toxic to rattlesnakes as their venom is to us, and more people die of lightning strikes each year than from snakebites. The author's third autobiographical story, about a pair of rattlers engaged in a macho wrestling match, lacks the human-interest angle that fortifies the first two. Still, readers will be entertained by the tale of two male snakes at odds in the Wyoming prairie. And the thoughtful, subtle illustrations, punctuated by vibrant detail, add another dimension of reality to the bracing stories.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about fear of snakes. After reading this book, are you more or less worried about encountering a rattlesnake? Why do you think people are so frightened -- and fascinated -- by them?

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