Creation myths persist throughout literature. Many of these myths include mistakes made by the gods proving that even they are imperfect, such as Apollo creating zebras and giraffes before his final project, the horse. Author Charles Peterson used the concept of deity errancy to craft a humorous, well-paced children’s book focusing on the creation of the snake. When GOD CREATES A SNAKE begins the reptile is awaiting his meeting with God at Creation Station. Snake gets quite excited as he learns everything he is capable of doing, such as swimming, climbing trees, and hanging out on land. He then asks how fast he will run, but God is out of legs after bestowing the rest on 100-legged Centipede.
Bubble illustrations complement this punchline story, perfectly showing God’s embarrassment and Snake’s excitement and subsequent irritation. The simplicity of each illustration’s background also enhances the characters’ emotions because the reader focuses exclusively on them. Snake cannot wait to learn how fast he will run, only to find that God has messed up and he will slither his way through life. Perhaps Peterson is poking fun at why the serpent tempted Eve and became a universal symbol of evil–maybe Snake was really mad about his lack of legs and sought revenge on humans, or God’s most complex creations.
While the humor’s full meaning may be difficult for children to process since it compares expectations with reality, the illustrations make the story easy to follow. Children may remember the tale later on in their lives when their expectations fall short, causing them to make the best of what they have or have to give up. The unchanging “adapt or perish” laws of nature appear in myths and legends from around the world, including Peterson’s story. And besides, appreciating what you have and moving forward often results in something better: realizing that what you need already exists.
GOD CREATES A SNAKE also emphasizes that anyone can make mistakes, including seemingly all-power deities. Humanizing God can help children realize that the people they think are perfect and therefore infallible such as parents and teachers are mistake-making humans too.
Charles Peterson uses the line between expectations and reality to craft GOD CREATES A SNAKE, a clever, humorous and well-paced picture book about the conversation between Snake and God during a creation day appointment.
~Kent Page McGroarty for IndieReader