Getting To Know Matrix and Blaze

Children - Animals
26 Pages
Reviewed on 11/11/2020
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Lois J Wickstrom for Readers' Favorite

Getting to Know Matrix and Blaze, written by Dan Kunz and illustrated by Leslie Osmont, is the story of Danny’s trip to the art museum where he meets two talking snakes and learns about how they eat and grow, where they live, when they sleep, and why they like people. Matrix and Blaze are pets, so Danny has to ask permission before he touches them. Both are constrictors, who wrap themselves around Danny’s hand, sort of like a hug, to keep themselves stable. They answer all of Danny’s questions about snakes, like how long they live, and how long they grow, and how long it takes for them to shed their skins. These snakes are very friendly and patient, and they don’t bite or have venom that could make people sick.

The snakes in Getting to Know Matrix and Blaze by Dan Kunz are Grey Banded King snakes. These constrictor snakes eat their food whole, head-first, and they only eat once a week. When Danny holds one of the snakes, he notices that the snake feels cool. The snake explains that he is cold-blooded, which means his temperature changes with the temperature of the surrounding air. Sometimes he is warm and sometimes he is cold. This is a good book for children who are curious about snakes. After reading this book, many children will want to meet snakes and hold them, just like Danny. The pictures make the snakes look happy and friendly. But, be warned – don’t challenge a snake to a staring contest. The snake will always win.

Jack Magnus

Getting To Know Matrix and Blaze is an educational animal picture book for children, grades 4-6, written by Dan Kunz and illustrated by Leslie Osmont. The last thing Danny expected to see when he entered the art gallery was a man carrying two snakes. Snakes had always given Danny the creeps. He wasn’t comfortable with them, but he realized he didn’t know a lot about them and this meeting might be a chance to change that. He asked the man to identify the type of snakes they were and whether they were venomous. The man didn’t answer Danny’s questions; he didn’t need to. Matrix, one of the Grey Banded King Snakes, actually spoke and answered him. He learned they were indeed not poisonous, and both Matrix and Blaze, the other snake, were boys. After learning even more about them, Danny asked the man if it was okay to hold Matrix. The man agreed. The meeting with the snakes and their human companion was an eye-opening experience for Danny. He wasn’t frightened of snakes anymore, and he was eager to share his experiences with his friends.

Dan Kunz’s Getting To Know Matrix and Blaze introduces young readers to snakes, the legless reptiles vast segments of the population fear. Danny’s first question is the one people do need an answer to -- there are some highly venomous snakes which you need to avoid. I loved how the author had Danny interact directly with the snakes, and he addressed the major questions people have, ie. whether snakes were slimy, which is a common misperception. The other important issue Kunz brings up is the importance of asking the human companion if their pet can be approached, petted, or otherwise handled. Some animals, like people, are shy or may feel uncomfortable interacting with strangers. Leslie Osmont’s illustrations are marvelous! They make Danny’s meeting with Blaze and Matrix come alive, and the panels showing the Grey Banded King snake’s natural habitat are exceptional. Getting To Know Matrix and Blaze is most highly recommended.

Deborah Lloyd

Helping children not to be scared of snakes, but to have a healthy respect for them, can be a challenging task. Getting to Know Matrix and Blaze, written by Dan Kunz, provides a delightful way to introduce this topic. The story begins with a boy, Danny, who went to an art gallery and saw a man with two snakes. When he asked the man what kind of snakes they were, one of the snakes replied, stating they were Grey Banded King snakes or Davis Mountain King snakes. Both snakes continued to answer Danny’s questions, teaching him about such topics as being harmless, shedding their skin, growing up, and what they like to eat. Danny ended the conversation by saying he had felt scared initially but then decided the snakes were really cool.

When parents read this book to children, many areas to discuss are evident. These can include such topics as when it is safe to talk to strangers, fear of animals, interesting facts about different kinds of snakes and other animals, and asking permission to touch pets. Parents can help children to ask similar questions about other animals. Naming the two snakes is another way to make them more approachable. The beautiful illustrations by Leslie Osmont also add a realistic portrayal of these intriguing creatures. There are many details in each drawing that will hold a child’s interest for extended periods of time. Getting to Know Matrix and Blaze, developed by Dan Kunz, is an educational and fun way to alleviate fears about snakes. An enchanting addition to any child’s library!

Bruce Arrington

Getting To Know Matrix and Blaze by Dan Kunz is an illustrated story about a boy named Danny. One day he meets two talking snakes, Matrix and Blaze, in a museum and he goes on to learn all about them. The tale is part fantasy as the man holding the snakes is completely ignored, while Danny speaks with the two reptiles exclusively. The book is aimed at acquainting young readers with non-poisonous snakes and helping them to learn all about Grey Banded King snakes specifically.

I can see where a book like this would appeal to snake lovers, who appreciate learning about a new species. But perhaps even more importantly it presents a safe way to learn for those who are not comfortable around snakes. This species, as well as all others, have an important role in this world, and the book freely acknowledges that point. While pointing out they are not harmful to people, the reader will also learn about the many things snakes can do in their environments. The artwork of this book is bright and colorful, set off by the text in detailed pictures. Readers will certainly enjoy each page.

Teaching children about various wildlife species from a young age is important so they learn to respect animals in their environments, whether harmful to people or not. Getting To Know Matrix and Blaze by Dan Kunz takes a good step in introducing a wildlife species that is at home in the southwestern United States. Recommended.

Asher Syed

Getting to Know Matrix and Blaze by Dan Kunz, with illustrations by Leslie Osmont, is a children's non-fiction picture and educational book that introduces young readers to the lives of two domestic snakes. When Danny walks into an art gallery, he comes almost immediately face to face with a man holding two pet snakes. Matrix introduces himself and his companion Blaze, both gray-banded king snakes, to Danny as the youngster takes an interest. As Danny's initial discomfort transitions into curiosity, Matrix and Blaze allow him to hold them while they educate Danny on their natural behavior, diet, maturity, etymology, wild habitat, common physical attributes, gender and growth, and their suitability as a domestic pet. Danny walks away from the experience with a new-found appreciation for the gray-banded king snakes and no longer fears them.

Dan Kunz brings Matrix and Blaze to life in a unique way, allowing Danny and those who read Getting to Know Matrix and Blaze a first-hand opportunity to learn more about the gray-banded king snake. I admit that it was an educational experience for me as well. My wife grew up with a fifteen-foot python named Rozella as a pet and, like most who haven't been around snakes, the idea of someone wanting a domestic snake in their homes has always baffled me. This picture book is the first time I've ever actually seen in print anyone else with the same interest as my wife. As for the illustrations, Leslie Osmont gives readers a clear visualization of the snakes themselves with the use of original artwork and vivid colors. Kunz and Osmont do an excellent job in the making of this story.