Book Guide

Buzztail was nearly six feet long—a giant among timber rattlesnakes. He was an old snake and had lived near the same den for twelve years.

This vivid account of one year in the life of Buzztail conveys a wealth of information about the timber rattlesnake. Its diamond-shaped scales of different colors and its many rattles give it a distinctive appearance. Its three-quarter-inch fangs stab suddenly, like a hypodermic needle, injecting venom and providing a deadly method of attack. Once an animal is bitten, it cannot save itself, but human beings have learned what to do in such an emergency. In this story the startled Buzztail strikes a careless farm boy, and all the steps of taking care of a snake bite are described.

Like all Mr. McClung's natural-science books, this story of a rattlesnake is set against a living background whose fields and woods and changing seasons are described and pictured with imagination as well as realism.

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Robert M. McClung

Robert M. McClung

1916 - 2006
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Buzztail and Leaper Reprint

Buzztail and Leaper
Reprinted in 2021 by Purple House Press
Available formats: Paperback
View on the Purple House Press site

Updates for Buzztail:

  • Replaced the word "poisonous" with the correct term "venomous"
  • Citation added for updated information regarding protocol for treating a snake bite (see example page)
  • Scientific information confirmed and updated if necessary

Updates for Leaper:

  • Facts page added at the end of book
  • Scientific information confirmed and updated if necessary

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Plumfield and Paideia

Buzztail and Leaper
Reviewed by Sara Masarik
I confess, I am not a fan of snakes. And, prior to reading this, I could not imagine caring about a rattlesnake. And yet, there was something about the way McClung wrote that made me care about Buzztail...

Read the full review on Plumfield and Paideia