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100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime
100 Young Adult Books to Read in a Lifetime
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month for Kids, April 2012: Carl Hiaasen taps into a pop culture phenomenon in Chomp by taking on the popularity of reality television shows with one of his own, “Expedition Survival!.” The Florida Everglades provide the perfect backdrop for a reality survival show and Mickey Cray, a wild animal wrangler, and his son Wahoo are hired to keep the pampered Expedition Survival! star from accidentally killing himself with the local wildlife. The Cray’s are joined by a girl on the run from her abusive father and adventure, laughter, and even a mysterious disappearance follow. The eccentric characters and wacky humor that make Hiaasen’s adult books so much fun to read carry over to the pages of Chomp and Wahoo’s voice of reason in the cacophony of unpredictable adults is an appealing dynamic for young readers. --Seira Wilson

Amazon Exclusive: Q&A with Author Carl Hiaasen

Q. What do you enjoy most about writing for kids versus writing for adults?

A. The best part about writing for kids is the piles of letters I get. 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.

Q. Chomp pokes fun at a survivalist reality TV show--what do you think about America’s obsession with “reality” TV?

A. Reality television taps into the same human impulse that makes you slow down on the highway to gawk at a six-car pile-up. Everybody does it and nobody wants to admit it. Beside Jon Stewart, the best comedy on television is Finding Bigfoot and some of these other reality shows. Infested! is another good one, particular the bedbug episode.  

Q. As a native Floridian, what is the most exotic animal you’ve encountered?

A. Poisonous snakes, gators, crocs, iguanas, black widow spiders, all that stuff. I tried to raise a couple of wild raccoons, which I would not recommend. I also used to breed rat snakes, which are beautiful animals. Even though Chomp takes place in the Everglades, I wouldn't call it a scary place--not nearly as scary as the lobby of the Orlando airport on a day when the Disney tours arrive.

Q. In Chomp, both Mickey and Wahoo are fearless when it comes to snakes and other wild beasts (and nutty people, for that matter)--do you have any animal phobias?

A. Yeah, I'm not crazy about chihuahuas. My Labrador and I will go two or three blocks out of our way to avoid one. For some reason they always want to chew my ankles off.

Q. You named the two kids in Chomp after fish--Wahoo and Tuna--how did that come about?

A. I just thought it would be cool to name a boy after Wahoo McDaniel, who played for the Dolphins when I was a kid. I'm not sure whether he was named after the fish, or after the wild noises he made when he was a pro wrestler. As for Tuna, it's just a fun name that looks good on the page. "Big Tuna" is what they used to call Bill Parcells, the former Giants coach. He looks nothing like a tuna, by the way.

Q. Did you know when you started writing that you would include a character who is being abused by a parent?

A. My novels don't have wizards and dragon-hunters, just ordinary kids in the ordinary world. And the reality, sadly, is that some kids go home every night wondering if their mother or father is going to hurt them. That's Tuna's world, and I didn't have any qualms about portraying it that way. In Scat I had a character whose dad comes back very badly injured from Iraq. Again, that's real life for thousands and thousands of families in this country.

Q. Can we assume you are going to keep writing for kids (we hope)?

A. Hoot was going to be my one and only novel for kids, but now I'm sort of hooked on writing them. Young readers are just the coolest audience, and I feel so lucky that my novels have been so well-received. I don't see myself quitting. It's too much fun.

Q. You clearly have the single word title thing going for your kids’ books, is that just something you started with and stuck to, or is there more to the story?

A. The novels for young readers have one-word titles because I want to distinguish them from the grown-up novels, which all have two-word titles like Skinny Dip and Strip Tease. It was a conscious decision. I have a son in middle school (and also grandchildren), and none of them are ready to read the Big Person novels yet. The one-word title lets the booksellers (and the parents) know that those are the kid-safe books.

Q. What has been your most memorable moment as an author?

A. I was at a book-signing in Boulder, Colorado, when a very nice woman told me she'd named her cancerous tumor after a character in one of my novels. It was quite astonishing. I was flattered (who wouldn't be?) but also a bit rattled. The happy ending was that her surgery had been successful and she was totally recovered.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Gr 6-9-Carl Hiaasen takes on reality TV in his latest novel (Knopf, 2012). Wahoo Cray is the assistant to his wild animal wrangler father. Their property holds everything from alligators to Bobcats that appear in TV shows and films. However, after Wahoo's father suffers a serious injury, debts pile up and his mother takes a temporary job in China. It also forces Wahoo and his father to accept a lucrative but questionable gig with the reality show, "Expedition Survival." James Van Der Beek's narration captures the cast of colorful characters in this fast-paced, humorous story. His vocal depiction of Wahoo is spot on, and he easily changes gears to play a variety of adults, including Wahoo's gruff but caring father. Derek Badger, the host of the reality show, is expertly drawn as a bumbling buffoon who has managed to convince viewers he is a survivalist. Van Der Beek is at his best with Badger's character, making a fake Aussie accent sound almost, but not quite authentic. As the story moves from being about filming a TV show to an action tale complete with boat chases and a gun-toting baddie, the narrator keeps it all in check, easily changing voices, while also acting as an excellent tour guide of the Florida Everglades thanks to Hiassen's lyrically descriptive text. A fun listen.-Shari Fesko, Southfield Public Library, MIα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to an alternate Audio CD edition.

Product Details

  • Audio CD: 5 pages
  • Publisher: Listening Library (Audio); Unabridged edition (March 27, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307916405
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307916402
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.1 x 5.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (644 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,140,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Carl Hiaasen was born and raised in Florida, where he still lives with his incredibly tolerant family and numerous personal demons.

A graduate of the University of Florida, at age 23 he joined The Miami Herald as a general assignment reporter and went on to work for the paper's weekly magazine and later its prize-winning investigations team. Since 1985 Hiaasen has been writing a regular column, which at one time or another has pissed off just about everybody in South Florida, including his own bosses. He has outlasted almost all of them, and his column still appears on most Sundays in The Herald's opinion-and-editorial section. It may be viewed online at www.miamiherald.com or in the actual printed edition of the newspaper, which, miraculously, is still being published.

For his journalism and commentary, Hiaasen has received numerous state and national honors, including the Damon Runyon Award from the Denver Press Club. His work has also appeared in many well-known magazines, including Sports Illustrated, Playboy, Time, Life, Esquire and, most improbably, Gourmet.

In the early 1980s, Hiaasen began writing novels with his good friend and distinguished journalist, the late William D. Montalbano. Together they produced three mystery thrillers -- Powder Burn, Trap Line and Double Whammy -- which borrowed heavily from their own reporting experiences.

Tourist Season, published in 1986, was Hiaasen's first solo novel. GQ magazine called it "one of the 10 best destination reads of all time," although it failed to frighten a single tourist away from Florida, as Hiaasen had hoped it might. His next effort, Double Whammy, was the first (and possibly the only) novel about sex, murder and corruption on the professional bass-fishing circuit.

Since then, Hiaasen has published nine others -- Skin Tight, Native Tongue, Strip Tease, Stormy Weather, Lucky You, Sick Puppy, Basket Case, Skinny Dip, The Downhill Lie and Nature Girl. Hiaasen made his children's book debut with Hoot (2002), which was awarded a Newbery Honor and spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller lists. For young readers he went on to write the bestselling Flush (2005) and, most recently Scat (January 2009). The film version of Hoot was released in 2006, directed by Wil Shriner and produced by Jimmy Buffett and Frank Marshall. ("Hoot" is now available on DVD).

Hiaasen is also responsible for Team Rodent (1998), a wry but unsparing rant against the Disney empire and its creeping grip on the American entertainment culture. In 2008, Hiaasen came back to nonfiction with The Downhill Lie: A Hacker's Return to a Ruinous Sport. The book chronicles his harrowing and ill-advised reacquaintance with golf after a peaceful, 32-year absence.

Together, Hiaasen's novels have been published in 34 languages, which is 33 more than he is able to read or write. Still, he has reason to believe that all the foreign translations are brilliantly faithful to the original work. The London Observer has called him "America's finest satirical novelist," while Janet Maslin of the New York Times has compared him to Preston Sturges, Woody Allen and S.J. Perelman. Hiaasen re-reads those particular reviews no more than eight or nine times a day.

To prove that he doesn't just make up all the sick stuff in his fiction, Hiaasen has also published two collections of his newspaper columns, Kick A** and Paradise Screwed, both courageously edited by Diane Stevenson and faithfully kept in print by the University Press of Florida.

One of Hiaasen's previous novels, Strip Tease, became a major motion-picture in 1996 starring Demi Moore, and directed by Andrew Bergman. Despite what some critics said, Hiaasen continues to insist that the scene featuring Burt Reynolds slathered from his neck to his toes with Vaseline is one of the high points in modern American cinema.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Novelist and Miami Herald columnist Carl Hiaasen is known for his love of his home state of Florida, and his relentless championing of environmental issues for the benefit of the wildlife and natural habitats of the state. Many of his novels for adults have plots revolving around environmental concerns, and the storylines of his juvenile novels, of which "Chomp" is the fourth, are all centered on issues relating to man's interaction with the environment.

In the tradition of his adult novels, "Chomp", like Hiaasen's three previous juvenile novels -- "Hoot", "Flush", and "Scat" -- is inhabited by a cast of characters who are well drawn for their roles. Hiaasen's characters are often pretty wacky, and though dialed back from the craziness found in his adult novels, there is an entertaining level of zaniness in "Chomp" which kids in the target audience will enjoy immensely while they learn about the environmental issues underlying the story. There are greedy, somewhat dim, bad (or at best, bad-ish) guys who exploit the environment for their own gain, and good guys who, sometimes reluctantly, find themselves going to bat for the environment.

The juvenile protagonists in the story, a (presumably middle-school age) boy with the unlikely name of Wahoo Cray and his school friend, a girl with the equally unlikely name of Tuna Gordon, are sharp, smart, resourceful kids with whom juvenile readers will identify.
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2 Comments 50 of 52 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
Chomp is a funny book. It is also a little bit crazy and even zany at times. While I love reading books geared for younger audiences, I had trouble not rolling my eyes a few times with this one. It wasn't so much the crazy incidents that occurred, like Wahoo's father being hit of the head by a frozen iguana, or the naming his son "Wahoo", or the fake survivalist reality star that stumbles into trouble at every turn. I was happy to laugh at that stuff and chalk it up to good clean fun, and it was. What I had trouble with though, was some of the character interactions.

Wahoo and his father decide to help out with a TV series so that they can get caught up on financial troubles that started after a frozen iguana literally knocked the father out of work for a while. His Mother flew to Asia to earn some money tutoring, so Wahoo and his father work the TV show together. As they are packing up to leave for the wilderness, they run into a classmate named Tuna who is being abused by her drunken father. This was the part that bothered me. Wahoo doesn't know Tuna very well, but instead of getting her real help, they take her along with them on their trip. It felt so sudden and random. Naturally Wahoo and Tuna become good friends along the trip and are trying to figure out what to do with her father upon their return. Tuna's absolutely crazy father ends up chasing them into the wilderness all drunk and shooting at people. I also didn't like that after Wahoo's father is shot in the foot, he tells his son to lie to the mother and tell her one of their animals got to it. I know it sounds like I am being harsh, I just think we have to be careful with serious topics such as abuse and promote honesty. I loved the crazy reality star that gets lost and thinks he is turning into a vampire.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the fourth of Hiaasen's middle grade/YA eco-themed books. I loved Hoot and Flush, haven't read Scat, yet. This was another fun read that tackles some interesting social and ecological issues. This book wasn't as much of a mystery as the previous books, it was more of a eco-thriller of sorts. I didn't like it quite as much as Hoot, but I liked it just as much as Flush.

Wahoo Cray lives with his father and mother and a ton of animals. His father is an animal wrangler and as such has numerous snakes, gators, etc living in his backyard. After being hit in the head by an iguana who fell off a tree Wahoo's dad has been having horrible headaches and trouble working. When Wahoo's mom takes a two month job in China to make ends meet, Wahoo is concerned about how he will manage his dad. Then his dad takes a job as an animal wrangler with a reality TC show called Expedition Survival! Now they have paying work, but when a girl named Tuna joins the team while fleeing her abusive father, things start to get a little crazy.

Like normal with this series of books there are some societal issues discussed: reality TV, cruelty to animals, alcoholism, and abuse. Also like normal all of these issues are meshed in with a story that is quirky and humorous at times.

The fake survivalist that Wahoo's dad is working for is an absolute hoot. He is so crazy and funny and quirky. Wahoo and Tuna are great characters as well; they are faced with some tough situations and do a bang up job of making it through everything fine.

With the crazy survivalist trying to do stranger and stranger survival stunts Wahoo's dad has his hands full keeping the guy alive. Add to this Tuna's drunk gun-slinging dad and you have a book that is more action and thriller than mystery.
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