How to Promenade with a Python (and Not Get Eaten) by Rachel Poliquin, illus. by Kathryn Durst

Review by Jocelyne Gregory

Tundra Books (Penguin Random House), February 2021

84 pages, hardcover, $12.99, ISBN: 9780735266582

Ages 6–9 years, Grades 1–4

Picture Book/Middle Grade, Non-fiction, Graphic Novels, Science/Nature

How to Promenade with a Python (And Not Get Eaten), written by Rachel Poliquin and illustrated by Kathryn Durst, is an instructional guide to prepare the reader for an exciting evening walk with a 300-pound python named Frank. Thankfully, the reader has help from Celeste, a Madagascar hissing cockroach to prepare for this excursion.

Celeste is full of insight about the lives of pythons, such as the varying speeds they travel, how long it takes them to digest their meals, how their belly scales help them move, and which species of pythons are best to take on a stroll beneath the moonlight—without getting eaten. There are pygmy pythons, Burmese pythons, and then there is Frank. As the reader discovers, Frank is a reticulated python that has 100 recurved teeth, can grow almost 26 feet long, weighs 330 pounds, and the colours of his scales are perfect camouflage in leafy environments. What could possibly go wrong? A lot, as it turns out. As Celeste tells us maybe a bit too late, pythons like Frank are sneaky, especially when it comes to finding potential meals.

The illustrations complement the words perfectly, with vibrant colours and humorous depictions of Celeste’s attempts to prepare the reader for their promenade with Frank the python. Each page is action-packed with python facts and survival tips for the readers’ education, and the art includes questionable protective fashion choices like knickerbockers, lampshades as hats, and literal frozen clothes—suggested by Celeste so that the reader can enjoy their eventual evening walk with Frank without fear of being devoured.

How to Promenade with a Python (and Not Get Eaten) is a humourous and educational introduction to the world of these fascinating creatures. This book would be best suited in a home, school, and library collection. It is a must-have for readers who enjoy learning about pythons, snakes, and nature, and readers who don’t like snakes in general but want to learn more about the nature of pythons.

Jocelyne Gregory is a UBC MFA creative writing graduate and a graduate of SFU’s the Writer’s Studio. She’s an author and editor and has provided manuscript consultations with the Sechelt Public Library and the Writer’s Studio. A lifelong gamer and fan of comics, she lives on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia, Canada. 

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