Akimbo and the Snakes by Alexander McCall Smith

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Akimbo and the Snakes by Alexander McCall Smith

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Another gentle-but-exciting story about Akimbo, a fortunate boy taking a tour around Africa's flora and fauna for the benefit of his less exotic western peers. Great stuff and ideal for sharing or for newly confident, animal-loving readers of either sex.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 96 Date: September 2006
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0747586104

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Akimbo, the lucky thing, lives in a part of Africa in which there are still a great many wild animals. In fact, he lives on a game reserve, where his father is the head ranger. Akimbo loves animals and loves to find out about them and work with them even more. This love of his land's fauna leads him into all sorts of adventures. In Akimbo and the Snakes, our intrepid young naturalist goes to stay with Uncle Peter, who has a snake farm. The snake farm has puff adders, banded cobras, king cobras, boa constrictors and even a black mamba. Uncle Peter's ambition is to find a deadly green mamba for the park.

Akimbo learns a great deal about snakes in his stay with Uncle Peter - how to feed them, how to milk them for venom, how to administer antidote in case of a bite. And he has a hair-raising experience with one of those elusive green mambas.

You have to love this gentle adventures about the redoubtable little animal lover from Africa. They are as kindly and as sweet and understanding as McCall Smith's books about The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency. They have short and direct sentences that are both perfect for reading aloud and for newly confident readers to attempt alone. Akimbo has just enough in the way of adventure to keep junior naturalists reading on to see what happens next and just enough educational material to inform without sacrificing entertainment value.

If you have a reluctant reader at home, and a dreaded home-school notebook sitting accusingly in a schoolbag, you could do a lot worse than give Akimbo a go. It isn't particularly challenging, but it is interesting, educational and fun. A confident six year old could certainly approach this story, but a reluctant nine year old wouldn't find it babyish. And any budding David Attenboroughs you know will absolutely love it.

Akimbo himself is also a good role model. He works hard and takes things seriously, but he likes nothing more than a bit of adventure. If you wanted to show children how to act responsibly around animals but also how to enjoy them, this is the little boy you'd conjure up in your imagination. He's not priggish, but he is sensible, and he's definitely brave, inquisitive and bright.

Recommended by Bookbag as a charming and interesting, if slightly undemanding, read for all children interested in animals and nature.

My thanks to the kind people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.

Even younger animal lovers would enjoy White Owl, Barn Owl written by Nicola Davies and illustrated by Michael Foreman. For more on snakes, we can recommend When Fred the Snake Got Squished and Mended by Peter Cotton.

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Buy Akimbo and the Snakes by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Akimbo and the Snakes by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Akimbo and the Snakes by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Akimbo and the Snakes by Alexander McCall Smith at Amazon.com.


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