Scat

 
(i)

 

Eco-mystery is suspenseful and funny.

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.

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

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

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

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

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

For kids who love mysteries and animals

External sites

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Kid, 12 years old July 29, 2009
 

GRRRRRREAT!!!!

Yes you should read it it is a great book
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Teen, 17 years old Written byashleyshepard January 17, 2011
 

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
Parent Written byMomWhoPreviews November 10, 2011
 

Mild, but constant bad language

My 12-yr-old daughter is reading this for a book club and "loved" the first 1/4 of the book, but now she won't finish because it has "lots of bad words." I thought she was being overly dramatic because I hadn't read this when I previewed the reviews for it. BUT...the 3 or 4 pages prior to her bookmark that I read (about 1/2way in) contained a d@mn, smarta&&, and dumba&&. That means about 1 swear word per page! Yes, they're "mild," but completely unnecessary! Sure, the boy who threatens teachers is a rough kid, but young readers get that just from the descriptions of him; they don't need the adult dialogue. There is also the constant reference to middle schoolers having cell phones and other unnecessary consumer goods.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Digital Compass