Scat

Common Sense Media says

Eco-mystery is suspenseful and funny.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A strong message about protecting endangered species. 

Positive role models

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
Not applicable
Language

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

Consumerism

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

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Adults smoke, drink, and get drunk.

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.

Parents say

Kids say

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?

QUALITY
 

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. 

 

Families can talk 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

Author:Carl Hiaasen
Genre:Mystery
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Alfred A. Knopf
Publication date:January 1, 2009
Number of pages:371
Publisher's recommended age(s):9 - 12
Read aloud:10
Read alone:11

This review of Scat 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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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 17 years old Written byashleyshepard January 17, 2011
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

goood for highschool teeens and younger ages like junior high schoolersd

love it and you neeed to make a movie and get pictures of characters
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old July 29, 2009
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

GRRRRRREAT!!!!

Yes you should read it it is a great book
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Kid, 11 years old March 6, 2009
AGE
2
QUALITY
 

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