Reviews for My Snake Blake

Booklist Reviews 2012 June #1
A pet snake! All right! Mom may be a little nervous about it, but Dad is pretty darn proud of himself. and their little boy is just about apoplectic. After they release the "super-long, bright green snake," it reveals a curious ability, looping its body into a cursive word: hello. ("I paid extra for that," Dad says.) Further questions elicit more snake-cursive answers: his name is Blake and everyone should just relax. There's not much plot from there, just the boy basking in the awesomeness of a pet that can cook, open doors, turn on the TV, walk the dog, and most importantly, help with even the most difficult of homework questions ("What is the capital of Kenya?"). Siegel ever-so-slyly turns this pleasant diversion into a helpful aid for kids new to reading cursive, while Bloch makes the most of the unusual horizontal trim size (11? x 6?) to stretch out his charming, minimalist, sketchbook scratchings daubed with splashes of green and pink. And if you're worried this won't include a Snakes on a Plane reference, don't be. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2012 Fall
The narrator's father gives him a pet snake as a gift, but it's not just any snake. It spells words with its body, including this droll bit of advice for the narrator's mom: "relax." The book's second half--a laundry list of the snake's virtues--fizzles. More successful is the spot-colored black-and-white art, which favorably recalls Jules Feiffer's work.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 May #1
Blake the snake just might be the most spectacular pet of all time. Dad brings home a very long, bright-green snake to the delight of his son and the dubious reluctance of Mom. But this snake quickly proves to be highly unusual and extremely talented. He twists his body to form the letters of his name in beautifully realized cursive writing, adding reassuring words to calm Mom's fears. Blake goes on to become a valued member of the family. Some of his talents are definitely snake-appropriate, like catching flies and licking dishes clean. But he also cooks, finds lost items, helps with homework, walks the dog, and offers protection against bullies. Although there are some situations that are a little dicey, as when his simple presence scares other passengers on an airline, all in all Blake is a "perfectly polite, delightful snake." Siegel's unnamed boy narrates the tale joyfully and enthusiastically, making Blake's oddities completely believable. The language is breezy and quirky with lots of goofy dialogue and some hilarious and very apropos homework questions and answers. Bloch's deceptively simple black-line cartoons are placed on long, narrow pages with lots of white space with bright greens and pinks bleeding beyond the lines. They evoke a mid-20th-century visual sensibility that honors Crictor, that other famous pet green snake, while perfectly complementing the text. Clever, laugh-out-loud fun. (Picture book. 3-8) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 April #2

In a loving salute to the unconventional pet heroes of an earlier era (think Lyle the crocodile or Crictor the boa constrictor), Siegel (Grandma's Smile) and Bloch (The Enemy) tell the story of a "super-long, bright green snake" who wows the young narrator by helping him with his homework, eating rejected Brussels sprouts, and fighting bullies. "He's a perfectly polite, delightful snake," the boy says. When the family's father brings Blake home, the snake uses his long, supple body to spell words in graceful cursive, calming the narrator's anxious mother-- " ‘Relax,' he scribbled. ‘Really?' said Mom. ‘Really,' he answered." The father swells with pride: "I paid extra for that," he says about Blake's writing ability. Bloch's cartoons, with their loopy lines, sparing use of green and red, and exaggerated facial expressions, show Blake engaged in a series of charmingly unsnakelike activities: he cooks, finds lost keys, and enjoys cuddling on park benches. The narrator's saucy voice and a couple of adult-aimed jokes make rereadings a treat; parents may find themselves arguing about a trip to the pet store. Ages 3-6. (June)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2012 June

K-Gr 2--A boy's early birthday present from his father is a bright green snake that communicates by twisting his long sinuous body into single words. Blake cooks like a chef, catches flies, and walks the dog. As their friendship develops, he helps the boy with homework by answering difficult questions involving Kenya, the poet William Blake, and the Oakland Raiders quarterback in the 1977 Super Bowl (Kenny "The Snake" Stabler). Though he would never bite anyone, Blake does frighten a mean kid at school and most of the passengers aboard a plane when the family goes on vacation. The boy feels lucky to have him, "the best snake, by far, in the whole world." The long, narrow shape of the book is appropriately snakelike, and the black line drawings are mostly colored with red and green against white backgrounds. The charming cartoon illustrations are rich in body language and facial expressions. They lightly suggest an urban setting, perhaps New York City. This story is reminiscent of Tomi Ungerer"s Crictor (Harper, 1958), sharing a similar artistic style and the same wry humor. A fun selection for storytime.--Mary Jean Smith, formerly at Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN

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