From School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Omar has found the perfect pet: it doesn't take up much room, it's clean, it doesn't shed. His parents promised him a pet when he was old enough to take care of one, and Omar is a very responsible young man. He gets good grades, does his chores, and babysits his younger sister. He's also done his research, and knows just what he needs to take care of it. So what's the problem? The pet is a snake, and his mother loathes snakes. Luckily, Mom concedes on the condition that it stays out of her view. So what is Omar supposed to do when Arrow escapes and can't be found? What follows is a compelling story of how a child loses a snake and gains perspective on the nature of phobias as well as a lesson in making hard choices. Omar is a fantastic role-model for young readers. He's bright, responsible, empathetic, and research-savvy. Kimmel does an excellent job of creating realistic, well-rounded characters with solid multicultural representation (Omar is Pakistani/Lebanese, his best friend is Chinese); the family dynamic is particularly enjoyable. With fast-paced prose, relatable characters, and a surprise ending, this is a worthy novel for intermediate (and reluctant) readers.-Nicole Waskie-Laura, Chenango Forks Elementary School, Binghamton, NYα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Omar has done his research, but it might not be enough to convince his parents to let him get a pet corn snake. His mom is dead set against any snakes or snake food (mice) in her home. But after a measured family discussion and a signed contract, they agree to a snake on the condition that his mom never sees it or the feeder mice. Omar has the best intentions, but missteps quickly lead to a big problem when the snake gets loose in the house. The cast is multicultural: Omar’s parents are from Pakistan and Lebanon and his best friend is Chinese American. The author addresses Omar’s Muslim faith and his mother’s childhood in war-torn Lebanon but does not dwell on either. The main focus is the snake: selecting a good one, setting up the habitat, proper care and feeding, and snake phobias. At times the book reads like a guide to pet snakes, but snake lovers may enjoy the careful details, and others will appreciate a multicultural story about daily life in America. Grades 4-6. --Suzanne Harold