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ôStudents who do not develop reading fluency, regardless of how bright they are, are likely to remain poor readers thr... More
Summary: Nick, Marta, and their classmates were "enjoying" an all-day field trip to the Black Vine Swamp, when things went sideways. First, the group hears a screech and fast-moving animal; then they spot a wild fire; and finally, Mrs. Starch the science teacher goes missing. Something is definitely going on. There is no way the most feared teacher in school just disappeared for a "family emergency." The clues don't add up, and Nick and Marta are determined to get to the bottom of it. But are they willing to go back into one of the most dangerous swamps in Florida? This is a middle grade mystery set in the Florida Everglades.
Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 9 and Up; read yourself: 11 and Up
Young Reader Reaction: Teen 1:Scat has the classic aspects of a book you look for: a feel good plot; characters with interesting backgrounds and personalities; and timelessness. The book had a great message of environmentalism, seeing the wrong in deforestation, caring for those that you love even if they are going through hard times, and helping others even though that you have always been friends with. The plot moves quickly, and nothing drags on. Scat is excellent, but there were parts that I didn't like ... like a teacher handing out a 500-page essay that made fun of a student's complexion. There is recurring violence, and some of the accidents that occur are just absurd. This book is suitable readers 10-14 years old. It might seem childish to older readers. Borrow this one from the library.
Teen 2: This book is long. Very long. Don’t get me wrong, Scat is an excellent story revealed through a suspenseful plot, but it you are looking for a manageable novel to encourage a young reader, the length may actually deter rather than promote reading. If read in school, students could spend weeks dissecting Hiaasen’s political and environmental commentary. Maybe this makes it a good book for kids and college students alike, or maybe it makes it a jumble of the author’s thoughts and opinions on the Iraq war, capitalism, and environmental preservation. Yes, it is a thought-provoking novel, but it is better suited for an older audience, not the one that they use for library cataloging.
Teen 3: I thoroughly enjoyed Scat and how Hiassen wrote a story with a little something for everyone. The little stories that go with the main plot make it more interesting. This is a book I would like to receive as a gift. I could it read over and over again and still enjoy it.
Adult Reader Reaction: This was an enjoyable, fast read. The pace is good, and there are plenty of twists and turns to make you re-think your assumptions. There is an underlying story about Nick and his father (a returned, injured soldier) that adds something meaningful beyond the story's mystery plot. The humor was Okay, Drake McBride and Jimmy Lee Bayliss were too far over the top. I felt like I was watching Dukes of Hazzard.
Pros: Humor and over-the-top absurdity keep kids turning page after page. The story is balanced, offering kids insight into conservation and endangered species.
Cons: There is some violence, and the absurdity of some events undermines the story. Despite being marketed for middle school, this is for an older reader.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a very worthwhile read, but not one you would likely keep on your shelf or share with others.