Scat

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Scat Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Eco-mystery is suspenseful and funny.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 6 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 29 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

A strong message about protecting endangered species. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Nick is a wonderful model of empathy, a trait that comes into play in all of the various plot strands. Although there is a cartoonish villain, he's such a bit player compared with all of the strong, decent, complex characters, children and adults, that he's hardly noticed. 
 

Violence

A man is hit by an RPG and loses his right arm while another is killed, a boy bites off and eats a teacher's pinky, a woman is shot in the leg, a man is trampled by a horse, a man chokes another man, and a boy breaks his arm.

Sex
Language

"Ass," "dumbass," and "smartass."

Consumerism

Food and drink brands, sneakers, software, antacids, pet food.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adults smoke, drink, and get drunk.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Carl Hiassen's Scat is a mystery that involves protecting endangered Florida panthers. There's some violence, though it mostly happens offstage, including a father who loses an arm to an RPG in Iraq. Also: a boy bites off and eats a teacher's pinky, a woman's shot in the leg, a man's trampled by a horse, a man chokes another man, and a boy breaks his arm.

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User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymashayla September 28, 2015

A challenging book for higher reading levels

If you like a good challenging and interesting book then you will like this book. there is a little bit of curse words and some gory things happen in the book... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byFantasy teen February 6, 2019

Dull

Couldn’t finish, very dull . Don’t bother
Teen, 17 years old Written byprttystar4 July 7, 2009

Nahhh

I started reading this but got really bored, Im sorry I just couldnt get through it.

What's the story?

Nick's strict biology teacher angers a semi-delinquent student named Smoke by humiliating him in front of the class. The next day, after a class trip to the swamp that ends when a brush fire mysteriously flares up, she disappears. Smoke, who's been known to set fires, is the prime suspect, but when the police go to arrest him, he takes off and disappears too. Meanwhile, a shady oil company plans secret drilling in protected land, and a rare, endangered panther is sighted in the swamp. Somehow, all these events are connected.

Is it any good?

The basic plot outline may sound familiar to fans of Carl Hiaasen's previous books for kids, but this one has less potty humor (a surprise, given the title). There are still a few stupid adults around, but most of the adults are great role models from whom the younger characters learn a lot: smart, knowledgeable, caring, and just as dedicated as the kids to doing what's right. The characters are more multidimensional and well fleshed out, and the plot is tighter.

In addition to the main mystery plot, there's a beautifully done subplot about Nick's father returning from Iraq, having lost his right arm to an RPG. The actions Nick immediately takes to understand and support his father are concrete, believable, and highlight Nick's exceptional talent for empathy, a trait that comes into play in all of the various plot strands. Although there is a cartoonish villain, he's such a bit player compared with all of the strong, decent, complex characters, children and adults, that he's hardly noticed. 

 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about protecting endangered animals. Do the characters in Scat go too far? How far would you be willing to go? 

  • How does Scat compare with other Carl Hiassen books? 

  • Kids may want to learn more about Florida panthers. See what you can find out on the Internet. 

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love mysteries and animals

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