Chomp

Common Sense Media says

Zany adventure in the Florida Everglades spoofs reality TV.

Age(i)

2
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5
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9
10
11
12
13
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17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Educational value

Hiaasen includes facts about the flora and fauna of the Florida Everglades as well as a strong environmental message. Wahoo's dad, Mickey Cray, is an animal handler with a lot of respect for animals. Wahoo's schoolmate, Tuna, is a girl who finds an escape from her abusive father by memorizing the Latin names of animals she discovers.

Positive messages

Although nontraditional, Wahoo's family is a strong and supportive one, and the bottom line is they all love each other.

Positive role models

Wahoo and his friend Tuna are the sane ones on the set of a reality show full of crazy adults. Wahoo's level head and smarts keep his father's animal wrangling business going so they can pay the mortgage. He intervenes with clients, since his dad isn't "a people person." Wahoo makes good choices and uses his brains to help his family and save his father and friends. Mickey Cray isn't always a good father, but he consistently works to protect animals of all types.

Violence

Tuna's father is a mean alcoholic who gives Tuna a black eye and caused her mom to leave, shoots two people, and holds several other hostage. Younger children will be uncomfortable with such a mean dad. A scene from the past is described, in which a younger Wahoo had his thumb bitten while feeding his dad's pet alligator. Derek Badger bites a bat, but the bat is fine and escapes.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

A few instances of crude or strong language: "damn," "jackass," "horse's ass," "sorry-ass" as an adjective, "butt," "butt wart."

Consumerism

The kids drink a lot of Coke and Mountain Dew as they romp through the Everglades and eat Fruit Roll-Ups for breakfast. Google Earth, TiVo, Facebook, and the iPhone are also mentioned in the context of making the story reflect current tween lives. Chomp is a take-off on reality TV shows and their stars, and Bear Grylls of Man vs. Wild is mentioned. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

An adult character is an often-cruel alcoholic. Tuna gives Mickey some prescription "pink pills" to get rid of his headache. They turn out to be a placebo. Wahoo gives bourbon to a python to distract it from eating Mickey's leg.

 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Chomp, a funny, sarcastic novel from the author of Hoot, Flush, and Scat, is a perfect story for middle schoolers who are beginning to realize the world isn't perfect. Parents don't always act responsibly, and many other adults are downright unethical, but the kid characters are remarkably levelheaded. Chomp primarily pokes fun at reality TV, while throwing animals and upbeat adventure into the mix. But there is some violence: A main character's abusive alcoholic father gives her a black eye and causes her mom to leave the family, shoots two people, and holds several other hostage. Younger children will be uncomfortable with such a mean dad. There are also scenes of a young kid being bitten by a pet alligator and an adult biting a bat, but the bat escapes unhurt.

Parents say

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Kids say

What's the story?

Wahoo Cray's father makes his living as an animal handler, but due to a freak accident, he isn't always able to work. Wahoo talks him into taking a job working on the reality TV show Expedition Survival! (a spoof of Bear Grylls' Man vs. Wild), which is filming in the Florida Everglades. Although the star of the show, Derek Badger, turns out to be a fake, Wahoo pushes his father to stay with the show to earn enough money to save their house from foreclosure. To complicate matters, Wahoo's schoolmate Tuna joins them to escape her abusive father.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Carl Hiassen has a witty writing style and a sarcastic tone that's both funny and revealing. He creates complex, offbeat characters using language that doesn't talk down to tweens. Like Hoot, Flush, and Scat, CHOMP is a pleasure to read, with enough zaniness and sarcastic humor to appeal to middle schoolers. The lampooning of reality TV is funny and sarcastic, and there's a nice twist on the Twilight series when Derek Badger is convinced that a bat bite has turned him into a vampire.

Hiaasen creates brave but realistic kid characters who manage to solve problems and help set things right. He also portrays some unsavory characters -- an abusive alcoholic father, greedy TV producers, and a fake TV star -- who, although they often behave unethically, have elements of good, making them realistic and likeable rather than just silly.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Derek Badger, the star of Expedition Survival!, is nothing like he appears on the screen. Why are TV stars portrayed as larger than life? What's real and not real in reality shows?

  • What other choices did Wahoo have besides helping Tuna run away from her abusive father? Where could he have gone for help, and whom could he have talked to?

  • How can you can protect wildlife in your area? Are there animals that are threatened due to interactions with humans?

Book details

Author:Carl Hiaasen
Genre:Adventure
Topics:Adventures, Friendship, Science and nature, Wild animals
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Alfred A. Knopf
Publication date:March 27, 2012
Number of pages:290
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 17
Read aloud:12 - 17
Read alone:12 - 17

This review of Chomp was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old August 2, 2012
AGE
11
QUALITY
 

Nice Book.

i love carl hiaasen's books. this one was fun, interesting, and enjoyable.

What other families should know
Educational value
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written bywombatgirl May 14, 2013
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Another really good book from Carl Hiaasen

I read this book at age 13, after loving the other Carl Hiaasen books when I was younger. I have learned about science, Florida ecosystems, monkeywrenching, and environmental protection from these books. In Chomp, I could not find an exact age for the main character. There are mentions of romance, but it's not an issue. This book does expose the reality of reality TV: staged, scripted, produced. Violence, drinking, and poverty are prevalent. The two young characters are in peril at times, and people are injured by purposeful gunshots. One girl is abused by her alcoholic father, who drinks during the book. I would say that this book is a go for age 10 and up, but make sure that the reader is aware of poverty and violence in rural areas.

What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byK bug October 11, 2012
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

This was a hilarious book that i loved. All of it was amazing. In the end the abusive father comes back with a gun but the people work together to make it stop and nobody is seriously hurt.

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