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Monday, January 14, 2013

Hiss-s-s-s-s!



Hiss-s-s-s!
By Eric A. Kimmel
160 pages, ages 8-12
Holiday House, 2012
 
Omar wants a snake. It’s a perfect pet: it’s clean, it doesn’t shed, and it doesn’t take up much room. There’s only one problem: Omar’s mom is deathly afraid of snakes. Still, after some negotiating and signing his name to an iron-clad contract (the snake will NOT escape!), Omar’s mom gives her approval.

It won’t be a python or an anaconda… Omar’s done his research and knows he wants something smallish and friendly. A corn snake.Once mom agrees, he needs to figure out where to keep his snake (more research) and where to get it. While some may feel the story gets bogged down in the research, I found it intriguing – maybe because I live with a guy who raised snakes when he was a kid… Soon enough we’re introduced to the Snake Dude, get a quick lesson in snake breeding, and I learn something new- corn snakes come in many colors and patterns.

Omar takes his snake, "Arrow", home and all goes well. At least until mom discovers baby mice in her clean kitchen and Arrow escapes. The tale picks up its pace as Omar races to find his snake before it finds his mom.

Keeping the great snake escape a secret is made harder by the never-ending questions from his curious little sister. But with the help of his friend, Omar comes up with some snake-hunting strategies. His mom does get a bit suspicious when Omar offers to vacuum the house – but accepts his explanation that it’s so she can give his buddy a painting lesson.

Just when Omar is ready to come clean and confess that Arrow has escaped, the snake makes an unexpected – and nearly tragic appearance. Who knew a harmless herp could cause such trouble?

Omar learns something about his mom, his mom learns something about herself, and readers will learn a whole lot about how to - and how not to- raise a snake.

This is part of Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday! Noting the snake science incorporated into the book, the National Science Teacher's Association listed Hiss-s-s-s! as an Outstanding Science Trade Book for 2013. Check out more cool reviews for kids here. Review copy from publisher.

9 comments:

  1. This was a little slow for middle school, but I think elementary students would love this, since small pets are such a big thing in 4th or 5th grade.

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    1. right - was thinking "mid-grade reader" not necessarily middle school. This is definitely for the 4th-6th group.

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  2. Sounds like a neat one, Sue. But snakes do shed their skin. Love the title!

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  3. I haven't heard of this! Thanks for sharing about it.

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  4. This is a very interesting story. I had a similar story happen at my school a few years ago. One of the teachers kept a snake in the classroom and it escaped over night. I was asked to come in and sniff around and see if I could find it. They gave me a whiff of the snake's shed and WHOA!! I said no way am I looking for whatever that thing came from! They were on their own with that one! I'll have to tell that teacher about this book! I'll bet she'd like it!

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    1. What do snakes smell like? From a 4-legged's point of view?

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  5. This sounds like a book my 5th grade students will enjoy. Thanks for sharing. :)
    ~Stephanie

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    1. I definitely see this appealing to 5th graders - especially boys who might want to raise a snake (or two or twelve).

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  6. Thanks for sharing this one. Added it to my goodreads to reads.

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