I recommended Tracking Pythons: The Quest to Catch an Invasive Predator and Save an Ecosystem to a student and I found that I loved it, too. I’m not a snake person, but this research trip that turned into an informative and interesting book for (older) children made me motivated to read more, as the back matter of the book suggests.

Author Kate Messner traveled to meet and travel with the team of scientists, including Ian Bartoszek, who were charged with tracking pythons and studying the ecosystems these gigantic snakes destroy. I learned how (NOT!) to catch a python, how much one python can eat as it grows to 15 feet long (!), and even something about responsible pet ownership of snakes. Many of the stories were humorous, such as Ian’s story of weighing one of the captured pythons at a supermarket’s scale (109 lbs!). Another scene included (gross!) pictures of a python who had eaten a deer. Back matter included “Invasive Species Most Wanted List” and a timeline of the Burmese pythons’ Florida invasion.

I was left in awe: “It’s always a mistake to underestimate the power of a Burmese python.”

This is an excellent nonfiction read for older elementary children or teens who need a mentor text for their own research projects.