Scat by Carl Hiaasen

I am a little bit ashamed to tell you that I have never read any of Carl Hiaasen’s books. I have a friend who really loves him, but I haven’t had a chance to give his books a try. So when his new book came in the mail, I wasn’t sure what to do. Mike, however, was kind of interested in it, and he offered to read it and write it up. So, this is what a book review sounds like when Mike writes them instead of me. Hope you enjoy.

When my pastor talks about our church’s environmental group, the Green Team, he refers to us eco-terrorists. To him, eco-terrorists are people who terrorize corporations (or churches) who do evil things to the environment, not people who terrorize the environment. It’s a compliment—I think. So when I met a character in Scat who is an eco-terrorist, a monkey-wrencher, I was pleasantly surprised. However, he is referred to as an eco-avenger which is a better name. Kind of sounds like a superhero more than a criminal.

Scat is Carl Hiaasen’s latest book for young readers. It is the story of Nick and a couple of classmates who are pulled into the world of eco-avenging after their teacher mysteriously stops reporting to school after a suspicious wildfire breaks out on a field trip to a local swamp. The book is set in Naples, Florida and the surrounding area, a place that I’ve been to many times. Hiaasen does an excellent job of describing the southwest part of Florida and it is a great match for the story that is told.

Hiaasen has again created a book where a group of kids are thrown into a situation that is very much over their heads. Nick, Marta, and a pencil-eating kid called “Smoke” are our lead characters who must help take down a bunch of bumbling adults who let their greed overtake their sense of what is right, at the cost of the environment and whatever creatures are living there, endangered or not. And as is Hiaasen’s style, the reader uncovers the mystery before the main characters do. Hiaasen puts just enough light ahead for the readers to feel like they are in the know. I think that is one reason that kids have enjoyed his books so much.

Another reason that kids like Hiaasen’s books is the fast paced nature of the books. I have not read Hoot yet, but I flew through both Flush and Scat because the story moves forward quickly. One aspect of Scat, however, that I felt was unnecessary was the storyline of Nick’s father who has returned home after being injured in Iraq. It plays a small part of the story that adds a layer to Nick’s nearly idealized character. My other negative to this book would be the character of Marta. She was not fleshed out enough to care about her. It was almost as she was thrown in just to have a girl character.

Scat was an enjoyable read and I will be glad to recommend it to some of my more mature 5th graders (Hiaasen likes to use some words that some students are not quite ready for). This book is great for discussing how important even one living creature is important enough to protect a whole ecosystem. Maybe it will raise a whole new army of eco-avengers looking to put pressure on corporations and the responsibility they have to minimize the impact they have on the environment. At the very least, students will learn a new, more scientific word for poop.

No Trackbacks

One Comment