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Scat by Carl Hiaasen
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Scat (2009)

by Carl Hiaasen

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Nick Waters has had a lot on his mind since his father left to serve a tour of duty in the Iraq War. A school field trip to a nearby Black Vine Swamp goes awry when a fire cuts the trip short and his biology teacher, the ultra strict Ms. Starch, disappears. Could the class outcast have done something to their teacher? He did threaten her the previous day. When the principal announces that their teacher is fine and has left to take care of a family emergency, Nick doesn't buy it. He begins investigating her disappearance because it helps keep his mind off of his worries about his father's safety, but soon he realizes that nothing is as it seems.

This was a fun read. I would have loved it when I was a kid. I appreciate the environmental message, but at times it was a little heavy handed. The "good guys" were all great characters that had interesting wrinkles to their personalities, but the "bad guys" were all one dimensional idiots that seemed a little lazy. Some of the themes are those I have read about many times before in young adult novels (the outcast who has a heart of gold once you give him a chance and get to know him) but other themes gave it an original feel. It had some humor and covered some serious issues (specifically Nick's emotions regarding his father's service) and I hope that my middle school age son will pick this one up and read it. I would love to discuss it with him. ( )
  Cora-R | Jan 17, 2016 |
Well written book for a younger audience. Lots of humor mixed with nicely layered sub-plots that weren't overly complex. ( )
  Belles007 | Jan 17, 2016 |
During a field trip to the Black Vine Swamp in Florida the most hated teacher at the Truman School disappears into the cypress trees and does not return. Nick and Marta along with the rest of their classmates are at first relieved but relief turns to concern when the teacher, Bunny Starch, is said to have taken a leave of absence to attend to an emergency family matter. It is widely known that Ms. Starch has no family and it has been rumored for years that she just might be a witch. When a classmate, Duane Scrod Jr. (aka "Smoke") is blamed for a small fire at the Black Vine Swamp, Nick and Marta decide to investigate to help clear Duane's name but they stumble upon an illegal oil pipeline, an endangered panther kitten separated from its mother, and an array of quirky characters on both sides of the law.

This was another good eco-friendly story by Hiaasen that has a touching backstory about Nick's father, a national guardsman stationed in Iraq, who sustains a devastating injury while on patrol and is sent to Walter Reed Hospital to recover. Nick's reaction to his father's new situation is interesting and sweet. I found some of the swamp heroics a bit far-fetched but it was a good story nonetheless.
( )
  Ellen_R | Jan 15, 2016 |
Audio book read by Ed Asner

This is the third of Hiaasen’s books for middle-school-age children. Like his other works he has a significant ecological / environmental message. The plot gets moving when biology teacher, Mrs Bunny Starch, goes missing on a class field trip to the Black Vine Swamp. Despite the fact that most of the kids are relieved that their feared teacher is out of school, Nick Waters and Marta Gonzalez are worried about her. They don’t believe she’s taken a leave of absence to deal with a family emergency. Working on their own, with the help of a juvenile delinquent and a mysterious woodsman with deep pockets, they decide to find Mrs Starch and ensure her safety. Of course, this wouldn’t be a Hiaasen novel without inept corporate baddies, a singing substitute teacher, an endangered Florida panther, a rich grandmother, and an eccentric recluse living with a Macaw that speaks three languages. There’s also a subplot dealing with Nick’s father, who has gone to Iraq with his National Guard unit.

Ed Asner does a great job reading this book. I love his voices for Twilly, Mrs Starch and Nadine (the macaw).
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
Nick Waters has had a lot on his mind since his father left to serve a tour of duty in the Iraq War. A school field trip to a nearby Black Vine Swamp goes awry when a fire cuts the trip short and his biology teacher, the ultra strict Ms. Starch, disappears. Could the class outcast have done something to their teacher? He did threaten her the previous day. When the principal announces that their teacher is fine and has left to take care of a family emergency, Nick doesn't buy it. He begins investigating her disappearance because it helps keep his mind off of his worries about his father's safety, but soon he realizes that nothing is as it seems.

This was a fun read. I would have loved it when I was a kid. I appreciate the environmental message, but at times it was a little heavy handed. The "good guys" were all great characters that had interesting wrinkles to their personalities, but the "bad guys" were all one dimensional idiots that seemed a little lazy. Some of the themes are those I have read about many times before in young adult novels (the outcast who has a heart of gold once you give him a chance and get to know him) but other themes gave it an original feel. It had some humor and covered some serious issues (specifically Nick's emotions regarding his father's service) and I hope that my middle school age son will pick this one up and read it. I would love to discuss it with him. ( )
  Cora-R | Jan 13, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 74 (next | show all)
...the ingenious plotting makes “Scat” more engrossing than either of its predecessors. The characters are richer — two of them turn out to be not at all the caricatures they seemed at first. And even the title is a clever pun, referring both to the good guys’ message to the bad guys, and to the panther droppings that hold a key to the mystery. In short, Hiaasen’s​ novels for younger readers seem to be maturing right along with them.
 
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This is dedicated to the memory of Dr. David Maehr, a gifted wildlife biologist who helped me during the research for this book. Dave spent many years tracking and studying Florida's endangered panthers. Because of his efforts, and those of others who followed, these magnificent cats still roam wild in the swamps and prairies of southern Florida.
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The day before Mrs. Starch vanished, her third-period biology students trudged silently, as always, into the classroom.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375834869, Hardcover)

Bestselling author and columnist Carl Hiaasen returns with another hysterical mystery for kids set in Florida's Everglades.
 
Bunny Starch, the most feared biology teacher ever, is missing. She disappeared after a school field trip to Black Vine Swamp. And, to be honest, the kids in her class are relieved.
 
But when the principal tries to tell the students that Mrs. Starch has been called away on a "family emergency," Nick and Marta just don't buy it. No, they figure the class delinquent, Smoke, has something to do with her disappearance.
 
And he does! But not in the way they think. There's a lot more going on in Black Vine Swamp than any one player in this twisted tale can see. And Nick and Marta will have to reckon with an eccentric eco-avenger, a stuffed rat named Chelsea, a wannabe Texas oilman, a singing substitute teacher, and a ticked-off Florida panther before they really begin to see the big picture.
 
That's life in the swamp, kids.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:02:54 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Nick and his friend Marta decide to investigate when a mysterious fire starts near a Florida wildlife preserve and an unpopular teacher goes missing.

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