10 March 2011

Scat by Carl Hiaasen


I read this book in order to book talk it to the fifth graders at my school. It kind of reminds me of something Michael Crichton might write if he were an environmentalist what with the devious dealings of a corporation, but this book is funnier than Crichton's work. I liked the book and will probably check out more Hiaasen books in the future. Perhaps I'll even learn how to spell his name correctly on the first try. Back to the book talk--I never ended up giving it, somehow or another, but I wrote up some notes to read to the students anyhow:

The book opens in a classroom with a really tough and intimidating teacher, Mrs. Starch, giving a student named Duane (whose nickname is Smoke) a hard time about not having his homework done. The next day the class goes on a field trip to the Black Vine Swamp. Smoke doesn’t show up for the field trip. Smoke’s dad is an out-of-work piano player with a vicious pet Macaw that speaks in three different languages. Nick, a kid whose dad has been posted to combat duty in Iraq, is excited about the field trip and hopes to see an endangered panther while they’re in the swamp. He hears a scream, which he’s certain is a panther and then a fire breaks out. The students are rushed out of the swamp, away from danger, but Mrs. Starch goes back in for a girl’s inhaler. She never comes back out. Days later the police and fire marshal are still looking for her as well as whoever started the fire in the first place. Smoke is the prime suspect but there’s more going on than a simple case of arson. There’s an oil company drilling where it shouldn’t and a stranger who seems to be causing trouble of his own in the swamp. This book is both funny and suspenseful and definitely a lot of fun.

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