When his dad gets a job at the U.S. embassy in Liberia, twelve-year-old Linus Tuttle knows it’s his chance for a fresh start. Instead of being his typical anxious self, from now on he’ll be cooler and bolder: the new Linus.
But as soon as his family gets off the plane, they see a black mamba — one of the deadliest snakes in Africa. Linus’s parents insist mambas are rare, but the neighborhood is called Mamba Point, and Linus is sure the venomous serpents are drawn to him — he can barely go outside without tripping over one. Then he hears about kasengs and the belief that some people have a deep, mysterious connection to certain animals. Unless Linus wants to hide in his apartment forever (drawing or playing games with the strange kid downstairs while his older brother meets girls and hangs out at the pool), he has to get over his fear of his kaseng animal. Soon he’s not only keeping a black mamba in his laundry hamper; he’s also feeling braver than ever before. Is it his resolution to become the new Linus, or does his sudden confidence have something to do with his scaly new friend? From Kurtis Scaletta comes a humorous and compelling story of a boy learning about himself through unexpected friends, a fascinating place, and an extraordinary animal.
- ★ Scaletta’s expertly voiced narrative offers an experience of Africa… in a tale tinted with magical realism that is by turns scary and very funny. — Kirkus Reviews
- Entertaining and touching. — The New York Times Books Review
- Scaletta has created an appealing, well-written protagonist whose everyday and extraordinary experiences change his life in unexpected, positive ways. With lively, sometimes droll touches and a well-constructed 1980s setting, the engaging, first-person narrative and array of diversely drawn characters further enliven the novel. — Booklist
- The kaseng plotline is fully engrossing… the cast of secondary characters is generously developed… and the setting is vividly drawn. — The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
- Funny, adventuresome and at times serious, the story is about a boy trying to figure out who he is and where he belongs. — The Washington Post
- The reader can never relax, sensing the danger that Linus chooses not to see. — The Minneapolis Star Tribune.
- Scaletta skillfully weaves the fantastic elements of Linus’ close relationship with the snake world with the practical realities of trying to make friends in a foreign land [and] finds the perfect way to wrap up his suspenseful, strange and enthralling tale. — The Buffalo News
- The excellent characterization and the unusual setting will appeal to many readers. — School Library Journal
- The hurdles and difficulties faced by the protagonist allow him to discover who he really is. — VOYA Magazine
- The terrifying yet beautiful African wilderness contrasts with the sometimes horrifying, sometimes exhilarating coming of age experience in this novel that manages to be both funny and mesmerizing. — Teenspace, CincinnatiLibrary.org
- A funny and refreshing story that anyone will enjoy. — KidsReads.com
- Scaletta does such a great job of capturing the tortured and tortuous mind of a 12 year old boy, all mixed with a snapshot of Liberia in the 1980s and the mysticism of West African society. Mamba Point is funny and poignant and triumphant, all at the same time. — Helene Cooper, author of The House at Sugar Beach
- Fangtastic middle-grade fiction (and a story of epic scales)! — Michael Northrop, author of Gentlemen.