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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Squirm, by Carl Hiassen, is a funny, adventurous contemporary novel about a middle school boy who's fascinated by snakes, has already moved six times to different towns in Florida, and joins his long-lost dad in some vigilante schemes to protect endangered animals. Parents should be prepared to have conversations about growing up with an absent parent, keeping secrets, and the ways humans have devastated our environment and wildlife. Billy sometimes lies for a good cause, such as saving an endangered panther from a wealthy poacher, and also saving his own father along the way. Infrequent strong language includes "jackass" and "smart-ass."
What's the story?
Billy Dickens, the middle school main character in SQUIRM, loves snakes and can't stand bullies. When Billy was only 4 years old, his father disappeared. Every month since his dad split town, he has sent money to Billy's mother, who cashes the check and then destroys the envelope. One day, Bill pieces together his father's address in Montana and sets out to find him. Instead, he meets his father's new family: Lis, his new stepmom, and Summer, his new stepsister, both of whom belong to the Crow Nation. Together they embark on an adventure that involves grizzly bears, spy drones, and an endangered panther.
Is it any good?
This quick, funny read tackles lots of issues, including an absent father, wildlife poachers, and endangered animals. Bill Dickens is a very amusing, adventurous middle schooler, although some aspects of the adventures in Squirm are not plausible, such as when he writes a check from his savings account and leaves it for his mother to cover the cost of his flight to Montana.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the environmental issues in Squirm. What do you think of how Billy's father behaves to protect endangered animals? What other choices could he have made?
Is it OK to break the rules -- or keep secrets -- if you're doing so for a good cause, such as protecting the environment?
Families can talk about how secrets are portrayed and dealt with in Squirm. Why would Billy's father want to keep his whereabouts a secret?
- Author: Carl Hiaasen
- Genre: Contemporary Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Great Boy Role Models, Middle School, Misfits and Underdogs, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
- Publication date: September 25, 2018
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 8 - 12
- Number of pages: 288
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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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.