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Akimbo and the Snakes    by Alexander McCall Smith order for
Akimbo and the Snakes
by Alexander McCall Smith
Order:  USA  Can
Knopf, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Akimbo's father is Head Ranger on a great game reserve. When his Uncle Peter visits he tells Akimbo exciting stories of the snake park he runs, and Akimbo always asks to go there to see it for himself. Though usually told he must wait till he's older, Akimbo finally is offered a working vacation there!

On his first day, Uncle Peter gives Akimbo a tour, and then it's time to milk cobras for their venom. Akimbo and park visitors watch as his Uncle shows how and explains why it's done. Later, Akimbo starts his own work, carefully feeding snakes and noting what they eat. He learns which are the most dangerous - the Gaboon Viper and the mamba - and of his Uncle's desire to capture a green mamba.

When word comes of a green mamba seen near a village, nephew and uncle travel there. It's Akimbo who spots it in a tree, and they capture it together. But on the way back, it gets loose, and Akimbo faces great danger. Alexander McCall Smith tells an interesting, exotic story, and includes a Did You Know? section at the back, full of serpent lore.

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