Cover image for Snakes don't miss their mothers
Snakes don't miss their mothers
Kerr, M. E.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, [2003]

Physical Description:
195 pages ; 22 cm
The animals at Critters animal shelter look forward to Christmas as well as the ever-present possiblility of adoption.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.6 4.0 73840.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



Christmas is coming, and Marshall, a black-and-yellow king snake who likes big words and live rats, and Irving, a twelve-year-old part-German shorthaired pointer, are still accidental residents at Critters, an animal shelter in the Hamptons. Even word of Placido's umpteenth adoption doesn't cheer them up. The large, one-eyed Siamese usually "goes out" for only twenty-four hours before his new owners decide he should "come back." Still, this time might be different. Sam Twilight and his daughter, Jimmie, are former circus performers and just might be clever enough to deal with a cat who has very bad habits. As the holidays arrive, all sorts of surprises are in store for the creatures at Critters. Catherine, an aging greyhound rescued from the racetrack, is invited to Ginny Tintree's home for Christmas weekend. Goldie, a.k.a. Rex, a recently arrived yellow Lab sought by the evil dogcatcher with red gloves, escapes and is on the run again. And a heartsick Maine coon cat named Rags Randall is compelled to compose his first poem about a dog: "Rex, this is Rags, can you hear me? / I miss not having you near me. / Run fast, Rex, run hard. / Till you come to our yard! / Rex, this is Rags, can you hear me?" With her own special brand of humor and compassion, the inimitable M. E. Kerr ex-plores a small corner of the world where the lives of humans and animals intertwine daily, often bringing new hope to all.

Author Notes

Marijane Meaker (born May 27, 1927) is an American novelist and short story writer in several genres using different pen names. Using her own observations of lesbians in the 1950s and 1960s, she wrote a series of nonfiction books as Ann Aldrich from 1955 to 1972. In 1972 she switched genres and pen names once more to begin writing for young adults, and became quite successful as M.E. Kerr, producing over 20 novels and winning multiple awards including the American Library Association's lifetime award for young-adult literature, the ALA Margaret Edwards Award.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 4-6. The animals at Critters shelter and the humans who interact with them are the stars of this novel, and therein rests the problem. There are too many characters (one of whom changes names three times!) and too many story lines; more editing would have definitely helped. Too bad, because there are some very good things here, as well. Kids will respond to the book's humor and appealing talking animals--Marshall the cranky snake; Irving the patient mixed-breed dog who never gets adopted; Placido the Siamese cat who finally finds a home. The human characters are somewhat less successsful. The relationship between Jimmie and Sun Lily, two girls who adopt animals and become friends, is nice, but the story line about Jimmie's career in show business never rings true. In addition, Sun Lily has two mothers (in the roster of characters, both are simply identified as volunteers at Critters), an element that may puzzle some children. Kerr still writes better than most, so larger libraries will probably want this, warts and all. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

What do a retired race dog, a king snake, a one-eyed Siamese and a friendly yellow Lab have in common? All are abandoned or lost pets who have landed at Critters, an animal shelter in the Hamptons (N.Y.), run by the compassionate Mrs. Splinter. Offering both animal, reptilian and human points of view, Kerr's (Slap Your Sides) light novel mixes some poignant moments with slapstick comedy. As Christmas approaches, Placido the cat gets adopted, and Catherine the greyhound goes home with a volunteer for the holidays. Soon after, Labrador Rex (alias Goldie) runs off from the shelter, not knowing that his beloved missing family is coming to fetch him. The furry friends find themselves in some dangerous predicaments (Placido falls into the ocean and the evil dogcatcher almost gets his paws on Rex), but things end well for all, including the brooding, left-behind snake, who is sure no human being will ever want him for a pet. The book's frequent shifts in focus and complicated web of subplots may overwhelm some youngsters. Even so, the members of Kerr's imaginative menagerie are sure to wiggle, wag and worm their way into readers' hearts. Ages 8-12. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-6-"Good-bye Placido" is a cry the one-eyed Siamese cat has heard before as his cycle of adoption from and return to a shelter begins yet again. He leaves behind an assortment of animals, including Marshall, the king snake; Goldie, a Lab separated from her owners; Catherine, a retired greyhound; and Irving, an aging part-German shorthair pointer, all of whom offer an opinion on the difficult cat's chances of finding a permanent home. During the Christmas holidays, Placido surprises everyone by ingratiating himself with his new owners, a child performer and her widowed father, and settles in nicely on their sailboat; Catherine is adopted, and Goldie is reunited with her family, who also adopt Marshall, the snake who never knew his mother. Only Irving is left at Critters where he curls up contentedly on his cot with his cedar pillow. This light, upbeat tale reflects the hopes and dreams of discarded animals. Good and evil live side by side, from the malevolent dogcatcher, Percival Uttergone, to the dedicated volunteers who work at Critters. The talking animals are more developed than the humans, but it all adds up to an upbeat reading experience.-Pam Spencer Holley, Young Adult Literature Specialist, Virginia Beach, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Snakes Don't Miss Their Mothers Chapter One Is This Really Good-bye? Irving liked to listen to the adoption interviews, even though in three years no one had ever asked to take him home. Irving's cage was right around the corner in the kennel, but he could see the front desk at the entrance of Critters. And he could hear everything. "Do you live in East Hampton, Mr. Twilight?" "Yes, we live on a boat called Summer Salt II. Our first was lost to Hurricane Harriet down in Florida, last summer." "How dreadful!" Mrs. Splinter eyed the tall man carefully. She was the guardian angel of the critters. She would never give an animal over to anyone she did not think was kind and responsible. "So you're new in town, Mr. Twilight?" He had blond hair, a black crewneck sweater, and black Dockers. A big silver belt buckle. Black boots. A big smile. "We're new for now, ma'am," he said. "We came north so my daughter could dance at Radio City Music Hall. Jimmie's in the Christmas show every year. She plays Twinkle Toes. We'll stick around to see if she gets this new job she's up for. A television commercial." "Your daughter appears on television?" Mrs. Splinter sounded impressed, but Irving knew she probably wasn't, for her own son was a CNN newscaster. "Jimmie hasn't been on television yet," said Mr. Twilight. "Her agent arranged an appointment for her with the head of BrainPower Limited. We've always been in show business, but we're mainly circus people." "Oh, dear me," said Mrs. Splinter. "I don't like the way circuses treat animals. They're so often cruel." "I wouldn't work for a circus that was cruel to its animals," Mr. Twilight said. "Where I worked, we treated all our animals like family." "Good! But now you're leaving the circus?" Mrs. Splinter asked. "Yes, for my daughter's sake. She needs to be with kids her own age. Regular kids. Now, with her mother gone, she needs a more normal life. I've decided to get off the road." "What will you do, Mr. Twilight?" "Call me Sam. I work as a clown for children's parties. And I rent the boat out for picnics and moonlight sails. This time of year, I get gigs as Santa Claus." "And have you ever owned a cat, Sam?" "No. My wife always had Siamese when she was a kid, but after we were married we got a little dog for Jimmie. A Boston terrier who could dance on his hind legs. I don't see any little dogs here." "There are none," Mrs. Splinter said. There never were little dogs in residence at Critters, not for long. Everyone wanted a cute little poodle, a terrier, a dachshund, even a bedraggled mutt, if he was small. Irving sighed. Irving was twelve years old. He was white with great splashes of brown, and he was big. He was mostly a German shorthaired pointer, but there was a bit of English setter in him, too. Sam Twilight said, "I couldn't bring home a dog, anyway. No dog could hold a candle to Dancer. That was our dog's name." Mrs. Splinter said, "How old is your daughter, Mr. Twilight?" "She's eleven, ma'am." "I have a grandson who's that age. Walter. He's an animal lover, as I am. . . . Did you say your daughter's name was Jimmie?" "Her name is spelled with an ie," said Sam Twilight. "My wife named her Jimmie after Jimmie Spheeris. I suppose you don't know him?" "No, I don't." "He was a songwriter. He was from circus people, too. So when he made it big in the Real World, my wife would make everybody listen to his songs. Then a drunk driver ran him down when he was only thirty-four. Our boat's named after one of his songs." "Is Jimmie an animal lover?" "Oh, yes. Her Boston terrier went to heaven at the same time her mom did, but Jimmie has carried on like the little trouper she is. That's why I want her to have a new pet to love. Pets help heal you when you're down. And when you feel up again, they're up with you! At least that's what I think." "I think so too. Yes. Yes, Sam." Mrs. Splinter's voice was soothing, a sign she was warming to this Twilight fellow, with his sad story and his optimistic spirit. She said, "Now, you realize that the cat you picked out was declawed. His last owner had that done! He can't go outdoors. He wouldn't be able to protect himself, climb trees, scratch attackers, or any of that." "Fine, because he'll live aboard Summer Salt II, which is moored at Three Mile Harbor." "You'll have to keep him inside, you realize. If he ever fell overboard, he could not cling to anything without his claws." "We take excellent care of animals, Mrs. Splinter. Like I said, my family considers them family." "Well, so far so good," said Mrs. Splinter. "Do you think Jimmie would like to see Placido before you adopt him?" "No, ma'am. It's to be a surprise." Placido? Irving's ears pricked up, and he shook away some drool from his large lips. Don't tell me Placido's going out again, he thought. That was the way they always put it at Critters when Placido was adopted: "going out." That left room in the mind for the idea of Placido coming back. For that was what always happened when anyone took the large, one-eyed Siamese home. He went out, and then he came right back. His fake-leopard-skin carrying case was a familiar sight on the floor in the front room. Irving doubted that Placido would last through Christmas with the man and his daughter. It was now the twenty-third of December. Lately, Placido's usual stay was twenty-four hours. Snakes Don't Miss Their Mothers . Copyright © by M. Kerr. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Snakes Don't Miss Their Mothers by M. E. Kerr All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.