Librarian: Maureen Badger, children's library assistant, Georgia Public Library
Book: Chomp, by Carl Hiaasen
Age range: 10 to 14 years
Badger's summary: In Chomp, reptile wrangler Mickey Cray tends a backyard zoo in the Florida Everglades with the help of his teenage son, Wahoo. When a reality-TV crew approaches Mickey about featuring his menagerie in an adventure program, Mickey allows the group access to the animals, including a lazy alligator named Alice and a large Burmese python that answers to Beulah. Mickey and Wahoo are disgusted by the arrogant and inept behavior of the show's star, but for financial reasons they agree to accompany the crew on an additional excursion through the Everglades with "real" wild creatures. The journey leads to one disaster after another, including animal attacks, adverse weather conditions, a kidnapping and the disappearance of the star survivalist.
Why it's a good read: Kids will be entertained by Chomp's well-crafted plot and sometimes-satirical humor, while gaining an informed respect for the complex environment in which we live.
Recognize this Author? Hiaasen is a Florida native who writes for the Miami Herald and is known for adult mysteries, including recent best seller Star Island. He said in an Amazon.com Q&A that the best part of writing for kids is the letters: "Grown-ups might stop you in an airport and tell you they like the novels, but kids will sit down and write a three-page letter, complete with illustrations. They're sharp and perceptive, and they really love the irreverent point of view in the books."
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