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Children's Fiction Reptiles & Amphibians

What the Snakes Wrote

by (author) Hazel Hutchins

illustrated by Tina Holdcroft

Annick Press
Initial publish date
Feb 2013
Reptiles & Amphibians
Recommended Age
5 to 8
Recommended Grade
k to 3
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2013
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2013
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it

Out of print

This edition is not currently available in bookstores. Check your local library or search for used copies at Abebooks.


Hurrah for snakes!
Rufus first notices the strangely shaped snakes on the ground outside his house. The word they form with their bodies, DOG, looks oddly familiar. Soon dozens of snakes join in, until the farmer’s field is covered in words. What are the snakes trying to say?
The farmer, busy covering up an old well in his field, doesn’t realize that his action will destroy the winter home of the harmless snakes. But Rufus’s determination helps the snakes find a way to tell the farmer their predicament and save their home.
Tina Holdcroft’s illustrations are an energetic and fun-filled complement to a charming story that subtly presents the benefits of literacy as well as the importance of preserving animal habitats. A brief afterword gives young readers additional information about snakes.

About the authors


Hazel Hutckins est l'auteure de plus de 30 livres pour enfants, y compris l'album illustré primé Mattland, une œuvre qui est aussi illustrée par Duan Petricic. Hazel vit à Canmore, en Alberta.


After many years of juggling writing, raising her children, and making a home with her now deceased husband, Hazel spends her days writing full time. Winner of Writer's Guild of Alberta Award for Children's Literature, she has written children's short fiction for Chirp, Chickadee, and Cricket.
When answering where the inspiration for A Second is a Hiccup came from, Hazel comments, "I decided to see if I could find other ways to describe time. When the writing began to flow in poetic form - and when I came up with the engaging title line A Second is a Hiccup - I knew I had begun a labor of love. The book went through many one version I actually brought in centuries and eons! Good grief! But it finally returned to exactly what it should be...immediate, simple and close-to-home. It is my sincere hope that children of all types will enjoy finding and celebrating, among the pages, the many ways they spend their time."

Hazel Hutchins' profile page

Tina Holdcroft is the illustrator of dozens of picture books including Old MacDonald Had Her Farm and What the Snakes Wrote. When she isn't out sailing the world, she lives in Toronto.

Tina Holdcroft's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“One of my favourite parts was when the snakes got their home back. I liked all the twisting the snakes did with their bodies.”—Canadian Teacher Magazine (Kids’ Picks), 04/14

“… excellent for primary school children …”—The Book Corner, 06/26/13

“There is a lot of reinforcement and great messages here—none of them heavy.”—The Online Eccentric Librarian, 07/06/13

“The bright illustrations draw the eye and the characters have goofy and cartoonish faces that children will enjoy.”—Resource Links, 06/13

“… ends with two pages of great facts about garter snakes and their habits … a wonderful addition to the story …”—CM Reviews, 09/13

“Does it get better in a children's book than adorable pictures, a positive message of cooperation, empathy, and consideration toward the natural world, and educational material?” —On My Bookshelf, 02/21/13

“… a tale about snakes that not only encourages children to respect animal habitats, but that is also lighthearted and fun.”—Canadian Children’s Book News, 04/13

Other titles by Hazel Hutchins

Other titles by Tina Holdcroft