Friday, July 10, 2009

Scat

Hiaasen, Carl. 2009. Scat. Read by Edward Asner. New York: Listening Library.



Scat is the latest of Carl Hiaasen's single-syllabled, adventure mysteries - following the very successful Hoot and Flush. As in his previous books, Florida's wildlife and wild places take center stage in this environmental mystery featuring the endangered Florida panther. The mystery begins when the stern Mrs. Starch takes her Biology class on a field trip to the Black Vine Swamp. One student, nicknamed "Smoke," had a run-in with Mrs. Starch a day earlier and fails to show up for the trip. A fire in the swamp forces the students to return immediately to school, but Mrs. Starch, who had driven her own car, never arrives back at the Truman School.

Teenagers, Nick and Marta, begin to unravel the tangled mystery, beginning with a video Nick filmed in the swamp.

Kidnapping? Arson? Theft? Environmental crime?

What exactly is going on in the Black Vine Swamp?

More than just an environmental mystery, Scat touches on the concept of crime (can it ever be justified?) and the Iraq War (Nick's father is stationed in Iraq). The mystery unfolds asynchronously and from varying perspectives, adding intrigue but making it a more difficult book for reluctant readers.


My library has this book classified as young adult (YA) fiction, but it's certainly appropriate for 5th grade and up.

I listened to the audio version. After my initial surprise at hearing the gruff, old voice of Ed Asner, I easily settled in to the story and his depiction of the characters. His voice is particularly effective in creating the voices of grizzled old Floridians, oil men, and law enforcement officers.

Better than my own recommendation, my teen-aged daughter enjoyed Scat and my "reluctant-reader" son read it for hours yesterday!

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