Ophidiophobes beware! Readers who aren’t genuine snake lovers will likely find it difficult to sink their fangs into this tale.
In this predictable story that often reads like a how-to manual for first-time snake owners, Kimmel tells the tale of Omar, a fourth-grader who desperately wants a pet snake. Unfortunately, his mother is deathly afraid of the creatures. After painstaking negotiations with his parents, plenty of research and an afternoon with the Snake Dude, Omar is finally allowed to bring home a pet corn snake. Of course, it isn’t long before the snake escapes, and Omar must race to find it and spare his mother from coming face to face with her biggest fear. Even if readers aren’t put off by the excruciatingly detailed conversations about what makes a suitable reptile habitat, including rheostats, substrate, hides and heat sources, it is difficult to ever warm to Omar. The omniscient, third-person narration feels remote and often preachy, and the children’s voices never ring true.
With a disappointing lack of emotion and humor, the story feels less like a boy’s adventure with his first pet and more like a manual on how to (and how not to) care for a pet snake. (Fiction. 7-12)