November 3, 2013

Middle Grade Monday: Chomp

It's Middle Grade Monday!

For those of you that don't know - the great MG (and YA) author Shannon Messenger started a great movement to make Monday "Middle Grade Monday".  Every Monday she has a posts filled with links of great MG books that are being shared and reviewed.  
I have been thinking for a long time that The O.W.L. should be MG only just because there are so few blogs with that focus.  I've tried, but it's gets frustrating that my MG posts get so few comments etc.  
But you what, it's time - time to promote MG!

(My student blog also has a MGM review up for The Farfield Curse by Bran Hambric)

Here's this week's book:

Title: Chomp

Author: Carl Hiaasen
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Age: 9-12
Stand Alone Book

Wahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so he's grown up with all manner of gators, snakes, parrots, rats, monkeys, snappers, and more in his backyard. The critters he can handle. His father is the unpredictable one.

When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called "Expedition Survival!", Wahoo figures he'll have to do a bit of wrangling himself—to keep his dad from killing Derek Badger, the show's boneheaded star, before the shoot is over. But the job keeps getting more complicated. Derek Badger seems to actually believe his PR and insists on using wild animals for his stunts. And Wahoo's acquired a shadow named Tuna—a girl who's sporting a shiner courtesy of her old man and needs a place to hide out.

They've only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. Search parties head out and promptly get lost themselves. And then Tuna's dad shows up with a gun . . .

It's anyone's guess who will actually survive "Expedition Survival". . . .

Ok I have a confession to make, and you may all gasp at this........I've never read a Carl Hiaasen book before! I've seen them all and heard about how good they are (Flush, Hoot, Scat), but I just never picked one up to read it.  Then this summer I did this program called Camp Read-a-Lot, and Chomp was one of the choices.  I decided it was time.  And I'm so excited because it was great! Now I can wholeheartedly recommend it to my students.

I found this book to be funny, serious, fast-paced and smartly done. It was funny because of the character of Derek Badger.  Here is a guy that plays on survivalist on TV but is clearly not one in real life.  The problem is - he's believing the hype about himself, so he thinks he can do all kinds of things he can't do.  This gets him into one problem after another.  I found myself just shaking my head at him but laughing at him too - especially towards the end of the book (but I can't say way or I'd spoil it!).  He's written so larger than life that he almost become a caricature of a real person.  Thankfully it's kept from getting to crazy and totally unbelievable.

I also liked the character of Wahoo (how can you not like a kid name Wahoo). He's such a smart kid - figuring out how to keep his dad, the 
TV crew and himself - all under control.  Over and over again he had to figure out how to keep his dad on the job he was hired to do for the TV show.  He had to remain calm when his dad was ranting and ready to walk.  You could easily see what Wahoo does has unrealistic, but honestly I could see a kid acting like him especially growing up in the family Wahoo grew up in.

I need to talk about the story of Tuna.  This is a young girl that Wahoo and his dad end up helping.  If there was any part of the story that was unrealistic this might have been it.  I like Tuna's story - she's on the run from her dad - but how she ends up with Wahoo's family seemed a bit unrealistic.  What I liked was how her mind worked. Wahoo was street smart, but Tuna added the book smart that was often times needed.

Lastly I liked the message embedded into the story.  It dealt with how we treat the environment.  What I liked was that it was clearly there - there was no  missing the message - BUT it didn't club you over the head with it in a super preachy way.  It just made it clear in a way that you saw the affects of NOT taking care of animals and the land they live on.  Well done there!

Final thought:  I'm glad I got to meet Wahoo and these crazy cast of characters.  Enjoyable and smart.

For the Guys?  Yup for sure.  Wahoo is someone boys could relate to, and I think many would enjoy the outdoor aspect of the book.  


  1. I must admit I have never read a Carl Hiaasen book. This looks like it might be a good one to start with. Thanks for the review.

  2. Chomp is my favorite Hiaasen book, and that's saying a lot, since I don't normally like quirky/Southern books. This one was just so funny. (Love the different owls on the side, but the way!)