Reviews for Scat

Booklist Reviews 2008 November #1
Hiaasen starts off this story--a hybrid madcap swamp adventure and cast-driven environmental whodunit--with the disappearance of a biology teacher after a fire breaks out during a field trip in the Everglades. The immediate suspect for the fire, at least, is a young miscreant, but friends Nick and Marta figure something else is afoot: it might have something to do with the nefarious oilmen slinking about nearby, as well as the rumor of an endangered panther and her cubs in the swamp. A generous cast of characters--each imbued with a few unexpected traits--flits about and provides most of the impetus to keep things rolling. Adding some emotional heft is the subplot involving Nick s father; he returns home from Iraq minus his right arm, and Nick binds his own arm so that they can learn to become lefties together. Hiaasen s gumbo tastes a lot like his previous efforts, pitting conservation against reckless greed and setting the can-do of youth among determined Floridian quirkiness. But there s a reason why a recipe tastes so good time and again. Copyright Booklist Reviews 2008.

Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2009 #1
Ever on the lookout for a fast buck, rapscallions Drake McBride and Jimmy Lee Bayliss have bought land in the Everglades. They plan to dig a pirate oil well on the next lot (which just happens to be the Big Cypress Preserve, but why sweat the small stuff?); run a secret pipe underground to their plot; and siphon off enough crude oil to con the government into purchasing oil and mineral rights. There's only one small problem: a Florida panther, the state's most endangered species, inhabits the area and if discovered will threaten the entire project. McBride and Bayliss try to keep a profile "lower than a rattlesnake's belly," but a couple of all-around good teenagers, an adolescent misfit attuned to nature, a crafty codger, and a demanding science teacher have gotten a whiff not only of the panther's scat but also of the swindle that is vintage Hiaasen. Don't expect any environmental preaching here, although a few science facts cleverly sneak into the story; instead, count on a page-turner that issues its own low-key call of the wild. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2008 November #2
During a field trip to Black Vine Swamp, a suspicious "wildfire" breaks out, and much-feared and -reviled science teacher Mrs. Starch vanishes. The school gets a letter stating she is away on a "family emergency," but no one believes that. Nick Waters and his friend Marta Gonzales are sure bad-boy Duane "Smoke" Scrod, Jr., is to blame for both fire and disappearance. However, there's more to Duane, Mrs. Starch and the fire than Nick or Marta could ever imagine. This is Hiaasen Country, so the complications include a rare Florida panther, a crooked oil company, a tree-hugging Hayduke of a millionaire and a couple of well-meaning-but-not-as-swift-as-the-kids detectives. Hiaasen's third outing for young readers might be a little slow in pacing and the character types might be recognizable to experienced readers, but fans of Hoot and Flush (2002, 2005) will not be disappointed by this funny, believable, environmentally friendly tween thriller. (Thriller. 10-15) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2008 October #4

Hiaasen reprises Hoot with a panther in the owl role, an oil company as the villain and a rich renegade named Twilly Spree as the outlaw environmentalist determined to save Florida from developers. The kid hero is Nick Waters, saintly son of a minor league pitching coach who joined the National Guard to augment a meager salary, wound up in Iraq and has come back badly injured. Nick's ample worries multiply after his science teacher disappears while on a field trip to the Black Vine Swamp. When Nick goes to the aid of a classmate suspected of involvement in the teacher's disappearance, he stumbles onto dangerous facts about the swamp: an endangered Florida panther has taken up residence, and an oil company has begun an illegal drilling operation. Nick is way too good to be true--he's more the son every parent dreams of--but Hiaasen's smooth writing, whacked-out humor and highly entertaining cast of oddball characters keep the plot clipping along. The achievement is in the underlying earnestness--formulaic or not, the story will move readers, and any kid who loved Hoot will like this. Ages 10-up. (Jan.)

[Page 55]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 January

Gr 5-8--Once again, Hiaasen has written an edge-of-the-seat eco-thriller. When their unpopular biology teacher goes missing in a suspicious fire during a field trip to the Black Vine Swamp, Nick and Marta don't buy the headmaster's excuse for her absence and decide to do some investigating of their own. Eco-avengers; an endangered, hunted panther; illegal pipelines in the Everglades; and an underachieving student with the nickname "Smoke" all play a part in this gripping novel. From the first sentence, readers will be hooked. The teens' dangerous detective work, with help from some unlikely sources, and the ethics of environmental awareness are well balanced. The emotion and personal changes that Nick goes through due to his father's injury in Iraq are on their own a worthy study of the struggles that military families are facing today. This well-written and smoothly plotted story, with fully realized characters, will certainly appeal to mystery lovers.--Dylan Thomarie, Johnstown High School, NY

[Page 104]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

VOYA Reviews 2009 April
Hiassen makes an effortless transition from adult to young adult novels with his ngeniously engineered and popular eco-mysteries set in the swamps of Florida. This latest book is no exception. The hero is a seemingly ordinary middle school boy named Nick. The mystery begins when Nick's biology teacher, Mrs. Starch, a notorious curmudgeon reminiscent of Viola Swamp of The Teacher from the Black Lagoon (Scholastic, 1989), shepherds Nick's class on a field trip to the Everglades. When the students are evacuated because of a fire in the swamp, Mrs. Starch suddenly vanishes. Nick and his friend Marta decide to investigate. Along with the mystery of Mrs. Starch's disappearance, there are other strange events that puzzle Nick and Marta. Of course, these mysteries are connected somehow, and that is what makes the story so enjoyable. But the light and humorous plot is tempered by more serious concerns. Nick's father, a soldier serving in Iraq, has lost his arm in a roadside explosion and has returned home to recuperate. There are also the bumbling but dastardly villains who have devised a scheme to make money at the expense of the environment. As the reader expects, Nick manages to neatly solve the mystery and avert ecological catastrophe Nick's resilience is quite remarkable, making him an appealing if perhaps a tad unrealistic hero. The many subplots to this complex mystery, however, are skillfully intertwined. Several characters also delight the reader by revealing unexpected sides to their personalities. This book will undoubtedly be a big hit with fans of Hiassen's other novels, Flush (Knopf, 2005/VOYA October 2005) and Hoot (Knopf, 2002/VOYA October 2002).--Jan Chapman 5Q 5P M J Copyright 2009 Voya Reviews.