Customer Review

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too, 20 May 2009
This review is from: Scat (Hardcover)
Nick and Marta are two of the lucky eighth-grade students in Mrs. Starch's (who just happens to be the most feared teacher in the history of the world!) biology class. Every day they sit and pass notes back and forth to each other, discussing their fear of being called on.

The day after their field trip to the Black Vine Swamp, something mysterious happens. Mrs. Starch doesn't come back, and she is never absent, and people start to wonder. While there might be a scrawled note and a message on her answering machine that states that she has had to deal with a family emergency, people, especially Nick and Marta, aren't buying it.

They are all convinced that Smoke, the kid in Mrs. Starch's class that she dislikes the most, has something to do with her disappearance.

In a whirlwind adventure filled with arson, endangered animals, the Iraq war, the Florida wet lands, a money hungry wannabe oil rigger, and panther poop, Nick and Marta set out to find their missing biology teacher.

Carl Hiaasen definitely has a knack for adventure. Every story he creates always has some crazy plot that makes you think as well as laugh! In this case, Hiaasen poses the problem of destroying the environment for monetary gain and how it affects the ecosystem in a hilarious manner. He also throws in some other great themes to think about: not judging people by their history/the way they look, believing in yourself and never giving up, learning to live with what you've got, and working as a team.

These themes are so important for younger readers (and sometimes older!) to learn, and Hiaasen did such a great job of incorporating them into the book without blatantly stating them. While this book has more of a middle-grade audience, it is great for all ages of readers, although there is a tad bit of language. Overall, I think the book was masterfully written and was a worthwhile and entertaining read.

Reviewed by: Tasha
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