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Mamba Point


Mamba Point

Moving to Liberia, Africa, seemed like the perfect time to become a new person. At least that is what 12-year-old Linus Tuttle believed. After his father is transferred to the U.S. Embassy in Liberia, Linus has the opportunity to start in a new school, meet new people, and be whoever he wants to be. Gone is the shy and timid Linus. In his place is a bold, new Linus that isn’t afraid of anything. Except snakes, of course --- especially extremely poisonous snakes, like the black mamba, one of which greeted him as he stepped off the airplane. One little snake isn’t going to stop him from being a brave new person, is it?

Linus wishes he could be more like his older brother Larry, or Law, as he goes by now. Law is old enough to hang out at the club in the U.S. Embassy and instantly seems to have a tight group of friends. He also appears to be trying everything from smoking to drinking to hanging out all night. Linus isn’t sure what to make of his brother’s actions, but the few times Linus attempts to spend time with Law and his friends, Linus is quickly shoved into the background. This doesn’t sit well with the new and improved Linus.

Instead, Linus focuses his attention on his problem with snakes. He steps outside, and black mambas seem to follow him wherever he goes. This freaks him out at first, but as he spends more time in Africa, he learns more about Kasengs. A Kaseng is when you have a strong connection with an animal. The animal will respond to the person, and in turn, the person will start exhibiting some of the animal’s behavior. So instead of hiding from the black mamba, Linus welcomes it into his life. Soon he is keeping a black mamba in his laundry hamper, and starts being brave and courageous, just like the black mamba.

At first, Linus loves being like a black mamba. He isn’t afraid to call up teenage girls, he rollerskates through dangerous neighborhoods, and he even strikes up new friendships with everyone around him. He also spends countless hours drawing his black mamba in his bedroom, as his family remains clueless. The black mamba, however, is still a dangerous, poisonous snake, and Linus never prepared himself for the repercussions of keeping one so close. Is he ready to accept the consequences of the black mamba hurting the people he cares about the most?

Kurtis Scaletta offers a different and interesting perspective on growing up and reinventing oneself. Most teenagers do not have the luxury of moving during middle school and trying to become a new person, let alone traveling to another country to do it. MAMBA POINT is a funny and refreshing story that anyone will enjoy. Having a connection to an animal is something many kids might fantasize about, but the animal is usually a dog or a cat, not a poisonous snake. Any reader will be able to relate to Linus as he navigates through attempting to become a more confident person and being inexplicably connected to one of the most dangerous reptiles in Africa.

Reviewed by Benjamin Boche on September 13, 2011

Mamba Point
by Kurtis Scaletta

  • Publication Date: September 13, 2011
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Yearling
  • ISBN-10: 037585472X
  • ISBN-13: 9780375854729