Book review by
Barbara Lawrence, Common Sense Media
Chomp Book Poster Image
Zany adventure in the Florida Everglades spoofs reality TV.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 7 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

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 & Representations

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.


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.


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


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.


What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 9 and 12-year-old Written byjpolizo January 19, 2015

If you liked hoot ....

You will probably like chomp. My 10 year old is a challenged reader who is about two grade levels behind. But he listened to this entire audio book in two day... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old July 27, 2020


Chomp is an extremely funny but also realistic book. Derek Badger is spoiled, and Tuna's dad is crazy involved in drinking/drugs, but that just shows how e... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bySean Kwon April 4, 2019

Chomp a book great for a quick read

Wahoo and his dad team up with a professional animal wrangler for his new tv show, Expedition Survival. Derek the professional animal wrangler uses the animal... Continue reading

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?

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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love tween stories

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate