Friday, March 19, 2010

"Into the woods, it's time to go..."

For those of you who don't get the reference, Into the Woods is a really fun stage musical by Stephen Sondheim. It melds together several different fairy tales, and the main theme is: go out to face your problems (giants), don't sit around and wait.

Scat, by Carl Hiaasen, epitomizes this philosophy. Nick Waters is a student at the Truman School. His biology teacher, Bunny Starch, stays behind at the end of a field trip to Black Vine Swamp to search for a student's asthma inhaler. She doesn't return. Nick and his friend, Marta, have reason to doubt the headmaster's assertion that Mrs. Starch has been called away on a family emergency. They actively investigate, bringing themselves into contact with a mysterious man named Twilly, who claims to be Mrs. Starch's nephew. He warns them off of looking for her, but something about the situation doesn't sit right with Nick and Marta. They continue their search.

The situation they uncover is bigger than either one of them could have possibly imagined. As the book jacket states:

Nick and Marta will have to reckon with an eccentric eco-avenger, a stuffed rat named Chelsea, a wannabe Texas oilman, a singing substitute teacher, and a ticked-off Florida panther before they really begin to see the big picture.
I really enjoyed this book. The only other Hiaasen I've read was Hoot, and that was a while back. My sixth- and seventh-grade kids had recommended this one to me previously, but it wasn't until it popped up on the SCBAN list that I made time to read it. I'm glad I did! The characters are well drawn, and the action is well paced.

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