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Scat by Carl Hiaasen

Scat (2009)

by Carl Hiaasen

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This is the third book of Hiaasen’s books for the middle grade/young adult set featuring kids in Florida who try to save the environment/ecology from evil doers. This was an entertaining read; although I didn’t like it as much as Hoot (which I loved) or Flush.

Bunny Starch has gone missing; she is the school’s biology teacher and not the most loved teacher out there. However, two of her students (Nick and Marta) think something fishy is going on here. They think it is incredibly odd that Mrs. Starch disappeared on the same day that the class delinquent Smoke did. Especially since Mrs. Starch and Smoke got into an all out brawl the day before. Well Nick and Marta might be right; but little do they realize that both Mrs Starch’s and Smoke’s disappearance are linked to the goings on in Black Vine Swamp.

I also enjoy Hiaasen’s witty and snappy writing style. It’s quirky and a little over-the-top funny and always entertaining.

However I thought this book had a little bit too much going on and was a bit too scattered. We hear from a number of different characters throughout the story and it jumps around so much it’s a bit jarring and hard to follow. Additionally there are a lot of different issues and stories going on here and it was a lot to follow and digest.

For example Nick is dealing with his dad being gone at Iraq. Smoke is dealing with his mom abandoning them and moving to Paris. There is the Red Diamond Energy company that is illegally drilling for oil. Additionally there is the possibility of an endangered cougar roaming through Black Vine Swamp. Then there is the missing Mrs. Starch and a case of arson that Smoke gets blamed for. Most of these ends up being related, some of it not. However it was a lot to put into this little book and resulted in awkward pacing and a story that felt jerky and contrived.

I was also a little disappointed that the cougars don’t really make an appearance until very late in the story. They are discussed some throughout; but the majority of the story ends up being about Mrs. Starch’s disappearance, Smoke’s supposed arson, and Nick’s dad in Iraq. It was just a bit of a mess.

Things are wrapped up nicely though and in a very tongue in cheek way that is ironic. The writing is fairly easy to read and there is some good action.

Overall this was an okay story. There was a bit too much going on here and the story didn’t flow all that well. While I enjoyed the topic of saving endangered species from evil-doers, I thought this was the weakest book so far of these Hiaasen books...which is a pity because the cover is super cute. I would recommend reading Hoot and Flush before this book; this one just isn’t as good as those two were. ( )
  krau0098 | Nov 28, 2015 |
This story brings out high school humor and combines it with mystery. It also focuses on how endangered animals in our habitats.
  7mary7 | Sep 2, 2015 |
I have have been to the East Coast, many times to Pennsylvania to visit my grandparents. I have never gone south down the East Coast to Florida, where my cousins live, and where Carl Hiaasen’s children’s novels are based. If you are familiar with Hiaasen’s writing, you will know that Scat is much like his other novels, Hoot and Flush, in regards to protecting wildlife, being based in Florida, having the protagonist be a young boy with a female sidekick of some sorts. There is also a theme of big corporations in all of these novels, and there are many real life challenges these characters face, such as bullies at school, mean teachers, moving, having a father go to war, etc. With descriptive language, specific allusions and humor, Hiaasen practically takes the reader and places them into Florida, and into the shoes of the main character.
In Scat, Nick and Marta’s most feared biology teacher, Mrs. Starch, goes missing. The principle in the story appears to cover up the truth and be dishonest with where Mrs. Starch is, however Nick and Marta see right through his smoke in mirrors, as the other happenings at the time were just too odd. The class clown, Smoke, has completely cleaned up his act, and Nick thinks that has something to do with the wildfire that occurred on their field trip the day before, when Mrs.Starch disappeared.
What does a blur in a video, a teacher’s house full of stuffed animals, a missing mean teacher, a class arsonist, panther droppings, state parks, and rare Florida panthers all have in common? Read this book to find out! ( )
  sommerkirk | Apr 21, 2015 |
  mrsforrest | Feb 23, 2015 |
I discovered delights in every aspect of this novel from cover art to every aspect of the story. It's a book that I would describe as one of the special treasure chests you sometimes discover between the covers of a novel. It is a magical treasure of a story that can be enjoyed for so many reasons with the first being the broad spectrum of characters and storylines that are all blended together perfectly.
As a former librarian, a special pleasure is to discover titles that can be equally recommended to both female and male readers. "Scat" is a perfect example of such a title. This novel could be recommended to readers regardless of age from Young Adult to Adult.
With the broad spectrum of teenage and adult characters and with each character in a different 'place' in their lives whether defined by family role (i.e. mother, father, son, daughter, grandmother, mother-in-law), job role (i.e. student, faculty member, headmaster, business owner, employee), or 'place' as defined by the individual's self-confidence or life experiences - this novel has something for everyone!
To name just a few of the wide spectrum of storylines this novel includes: environmental protection, wildlife preservation/protection with specific example of endangered panthers in Florida (US), a life-changing injury for a father in military service and a son's reaction, arson investigation, being true to yourself, being true to your passion, trust, and the true meaning of friendship and support systems regardless if family member, classmate, or friend.
I hope you'll be the next to read this title! :) ( )
  Corduroy7 | Aug 6, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 69 (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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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)

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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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