Fake Snakes and Weird Wizards: Here's Hank, Book 4

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
Fake Snakes and Weird Wizards: Here's Hank, Book 4 Book Poster Image
Kind boy tries to cheer up sister in funny, relatable story.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

A few fun facts about snakes, including that they smell with their tongues and hear with their bones.

 

Positive Messages

Kindness and empathy drive the story. Teamwork, patience, and practice lead to perseverance despite the odds.

 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hank is exceedingly thoughtful. He wants to make Emily happy, even when she isn't very kind to him. He employs his considerable creativity and confidence to solve the problem. After the party, Emily is at first unsympathetic to Hank -- but when she realizes how much effort he put into it, she is deeply grateful. Ralph the reptile wrangler is compassionate and kind.

 

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fake Snakes and Weird Wizards is the fourth book in Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver's series featuring second-grader Hank, who's also the hero of the Hank Zipzer series for older readers. The issues in this series are realistic and relatable; in this story, Hank's family can't splurge on hiring entertainment for a birthday party. The text is printed in a typeface designed to be easier for people with dyslexia to read.

 

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What's the story?

Second-grader Hank Zipzer hates reptiles and is often annoyed by his sister, Emily. But when she's brokenhearted that she can't have a reptile show at her seventh birthday party, Hank feels sorry for her. To cheer her up, he promises her the Westside Wizard will be able to produce a snake out of thin air and amaze her friends. The problem is that there is no Westside Wizard -- Hank made him up. With help from his friends, Hank disguises himself as a wizard and tries to learn the magic trick. He has a hard time learning new things, though, and magic tricks are no exception. As the birthday party draws nearer, Hank realizes pulling this off will be trickier than he realized.

Is it any good?

As with the other books in this fun series, the characters are realistic and relatable. FAKE SNAKES AND WEIRD WIZARDS: HERE'S HANK, BOOK 4 shows Hank Zipzer going to great lengths to try to make his sister's birthday the best day ever. Resilient as ever, Hank pushes himself outside his comfort zone to find success. Hank is funny and self-deprecating, and he needs other people -- such as his friends, his grandfather, and even the reptile wrangler -- to point out his considerable strengths. The overall tone is warm and engaging, with gentle humor and an understanding of the love and friction between siblings.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Hank's efforts to make his sister happy. What other stories have you read with brothers and sisters who look out for each other?

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  • When have you mastered something difficult by practicing?

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  • Do you think it was fair for Emily to be so upset with Hank at her party?

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