Here’s to Herps!
Welcome to Harris Center Reads — a monthly, curated list of good reads for curious naturalists of all ages! For the month of June, when turtles are laying eggs, snakes are basking in the sun, and frogs are singing up a storm, we offer our suggestions for books about the amazing amphibians and reptiles that share this world with us. Let these writers and artists inspire you to see the beauty, mystery, and importance in these creatures.
The Snake and the Salamander: Reptiles and Amphibians from Maine to Virginia by Alvin R. Breisch and Matt Patterson. This award-winning book, beautifully illustrated by local artist Matt Patterson, will make anyone want to search for all 83 species of frog, salamander, snake, turtle, and lizard that grace its pages.
America’s Snake: The Rise and Fall of the Timber Rattlesnake by Ted Levin. An incredible account of the near extinction of one of America’s most feared animals, and the dedicated people who have spent a lifetime working to bring this snake back from the brink.
The Year of the Turtle: A Natural History by David Carroll. Fall in love with turtles through David Carroll’s evocative observations and gorgeous illustrations in this year-long look at the life of a New Hampshire wetland.
Picture Books for Kids
Toad Weather by Sandra Markle and Thomas Gonzalez. One of Brett Amy Thelen’s favorites, Toad Weather tells the story of a girl who sets out with her mother and grandmother to help toads cross the road on a rainy night. Even better: it’s based on the real-life “Toad Detour” project in Philadelphia.
The Secret Pool by Kimberley Ridley and Rebekah Raye. Staff ecologist Karen Seaver and her two children adore this book about the wondrous life of vernal pools. Winner of several awards, it’s not only a beautiful read, but it’s also been reviewed by vernal pool biologists for accuracy.
The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer, Steve Johnson, and Lou Fancher. The story of a boy who imagines all that he would need to change about his room if he wanted to keep a salamander in it, this longtime Harris Center staff favorite helps children come to understand why wild animals should be left in the wild.
For Middle School Readers
The Snake Scientist by Sy Montgomery and Nic Bishop. Part of the Scientists in the Field series, this book by award-winning local author Sy Montgomery describes Canadian herpetologist Robert Mason’s research into one of the most extraordinary natural history phenomena in the world — the annual reemergence of tens of thousands of red-sided garter snakes after a winter spent in a state of suspended animation.
Where to Find These Books
BUY. We’d like to give a special shout-out to our local bookseller, Toadstool Bookshops in Keene and Peterborough! Although their doors will remain closed until it’s safe to browse the stacks in person, they are offering curbside pickup and free shipping via Media Mail.
BORROW. In addition, many local libraries are now offering curbside pickup, as well as a wide variety of eBooks and other digital options. Check with your town library for more information.