4.4 242
by Carl Hiaasen

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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…  See more details below


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". . . .

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Editorial Reviews

Bestselling author Carl Hiaasen's novelistic take on reality shows displays his talents to create fast-breaking action without sacrificing character portrayals.

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
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Random House
800L (what's this?)
File size:
2 MB
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt


Mickey Cray had been out of work ever since a dead iguana fell from a palm tree and hit him on the head.

The iguana, which had died during a hard freeze, was stiff as a board and weighed seven and a half pounds. Mickey's son had measured the lifeless lizard on a fishing scale, then packed it on ice with the turtle veggies, in the cooler behind the garage.

This was after the ambulance had hauled Mickey off to the hospital, where the doctors said he had a serious concussion and ordered him to take it easy.

And to everyone's surprise, Mickey did take it easy. That's because the injury left him with double vision and terrible headaches. He lost his appetite and dropped nineteen pounds and lay around on the couch all day, watching nature programs on television.

"I'll never be the same," he told his son.

"Knock it off, Pop," said Wahoo, Mickey's boy.

Mickey had named him after Wahoo McDaniel, a professional wrestler who'd once played linebacker for the Dolphins. Mickey's son often wished he'd been called Mickey Jr. or Joe or even Rupert--anything but Wahoo, which was also a species of saltwater fish.

It was a name that was hard to live up to. People naturally expected somebody called Wahoo to act loud and crazy, but that wasn't Wahoo's style. Apparently nothing could be done about the name until he was all grown up, at which point he intended to go to the Cutler Ridge courthouse and tell a judge he wanted to be called something normal.

"Pop, you're gonna be okay," Wahoo would tell his father every morning. "Just hang in there."

Looking up with hound-dog eyes from the couch, Mickey Cray would say, "Whatever happens, I'm glad we ate that bleeping lizard."

On the day his dad had come home from the hospital, Wahoo had defrosted the dead iguana and made a peppercorn stew, which his mom had wisely refused to touch. Mickey had insisted that eating the critter that had dented his skull would be a spiritual remedy. "Big medicine," he'd predicted.

But the iguana had tasted awful, and Mickey Cray's headaches only got worse. Wahoo's mother was so concerned that she wanted Mickey to see a brain specialist in Miami, but Mickey refused to go.

Meanwhile, people kept calling up with new jobs, and Wahoo was forced to send them to other wranglers. His father was in no condition to work.

After school, Wahoo would feed the animals and clean out the pens and cages. The backyard was literally a zoo--gators, snakes, parrots, mynah birds, rats, mice, monkeys, raccoons, tortoises and even a bald eagle, which Mickey had raised from a fledgling after its mother was killed.

"Treat 'em like royalty," Mickey would instruct Wahoo, because the animals were quite valuable. Without them, Mickey would be unemployed.

It disturbed Wahoo to see his father so ill because Mickey was the toughest guy he'd ever known.

One morning, with summer approaching, Wahoo's mother took him aside and told him that the family's savings account was almost drained. "I'm going to China," she said.

Wahoo nodded, like it was no big deal.

"For two months," she said.

"That's a long time," said Wahoo.

"Sorry, big guy, but we really need the money."

Wahoo's mother taught Mandarin Chinese, an extremely difficult language. Big American companies that had offices in China would hire Mrs. Cray to tutor their top executives, but usually these companies flew their employees to South Florida for Mrs. Cray's lessons.

"This time they want me to go to Shanghai," she explained to her son. "They have, like, fifty people over there who learned Mandarin from some cheap audiotape. The other day, one of the big shots was trying to say 'Nice shoes!' and he accidentally told a government minister that his face looked like a butt wart. Not good."

"Did you tell Pop you're going?"

"That's next."

Wahoo slipped outside to clean Alice's pond. Alice the alligator was one of Mickey Cray's stars. She was twelve feet long and as tame as a guppy, but she looked truly ferocious. Over the years Alice had appeared often in front of a camera. Her credits included nine feature films, two National Geographic documentaries, a three-part Disney special about the Everglades and a TV commercial for a fancy French skin lotion.

She lay sunning on the mudbank while Wahoo skimmed the dead leaves and sticks from the water. Her eyes were closed, but Wahoo knew she was listening.

"Hungry, girl?" he asked.

The gator's mouth opened wide, the inside as white as spun cotton. Some of her teeth were snaggled and chipped. The tips were green from pond algae.

"You forgot to floss," Wahoo said.

Alice hissed. He went to get her some food. When she heard the squeaking of the wheelbarrow, she cracked her eyelids and turned her huge armored head.

Wahoo tossed a whole plucked chicken into the alligator's gaping jaws. The sound of her crunching on the thawed bird obscured the voices coming from the house--Wahoo's mother and father "discussing" the China trip.

Wahoo fed Alice two more dead chickens, locked the gate to the pond and took a walk. When he returned, his father was upright on the sofa and his mother was in the kitchen fixing bologna sandwiches for lunch.

"You believe this?" Mickey said to Wahoo. "She's bugging out on us!"

"Pop, we're broke."

Mickey's shoulders slumped. "Not that broke."

"You want the animals to starve?" Wahoo asked.

They ate their sandwiches barely speaking a word. When they were done, Mrs. Cray stood up and said: "I'm going to miss you guys. I wish I didn't have to go."

Then she went into the bedroom and shut the door.

Mickey seemed dazed. "I used to like iguanas."

"We'll be okay."

"My head hurts."

"Take your medicine," said Wahoo.

"I threw it away."


"Those yellow pills, they made me constipated."

Wahoo shook his head. "Unbelievable."

"Seriously. I haven't had a satisfactory bowel movement since Easter."

"Thanks for sharing," said Wahoo. He started loading the dishwasher, trying to keep his mind off the fact that his mom was about to fly away to the far side of the world.

Mickey got up and apologized to his son.

"I'm just being selfish. I don't want her to go."

"Me neither."

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

Starred Review, School Library Journal, March 1, 2012:
“Mystery, action, humor, and exotic animals and settings, all tied together by a writer with an exceptional grasp of language, makes this a sure hit with any mystery-loving readers.”

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2011:
“Hiaasen’s best for a young audience since Newbery Honor Hoot (2002) features a shy, deep-feeling protagonist who’s also a pragmatist and plenty of nature info and age-appropriate cultural commentary…. Humorous adventure tales just don’t get any more wacked…or fun to read than this.”

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Chomp 4.4 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 242 reviews.
bookwyrmian More than 1 year ago
Carl Hiaasen has done it again. Here is book that is still set in Florida, but the characters are universal. Meet Wahoo, the boy not the fish, son of Mickey Cray, animal wrangler. Together they join the cast of EXPEDITION SURVIVAL! to explore the wildlife of the Florida Everglades. Between the two of them, a dead alligator, a indignant bat, and a survivalist who can't - hilarity reigns. This is a great action filled book, especially a good read for those in late elementary school and middle school Highly recommended.
storygirl629 More than 1 year ago
This is sure to be another hit for Hiasen! Hiasen, who specializes in books that team his love of animals and Florida with high action and great writing, tells the tale of a boy named Wahoo (yes Wahoo) that you will not be able to put down. Wahoo's family, like many these days, is struggling financially. So when his father, an animal wrangler by trade, receives an offer to work on Expedition Survival! he can't turn it down. However due to a recent injury (due to an iguana falling from the sky) he needs help and that is where Wahoo comes in. The story of their escapades on a reality show that starts out with more humor than reality quickly takes you for a ride as the show's lead star insists on the show becoming more "real" in the Florida wetlands with all of its natural animals and dangers. Mix in the reality of Wahoo and his father trying to protect his friend Tuna (yes Tuna) from her abusive father and this books dynamic characters and capturing story will have you hoping that it does not end too soon and that they will all come out alive in the end. A must read for all fans of Hiasen's Hoot and Gordon Korman's Zoobreak series. Grades 4-8
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book! Ive read all of the books and this one is the best books so far!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book! I would recomend it. It is definetly not boring, i could never put it down. Great for middle school students like myself. If you like animals, wildlife, adventure, and action, then this is the book for you!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesom, I loved it, I read it every night for 1/2 an hour to an hour, a very funny yet mysterious book. GREAT JOB CARL! ( the book d0es include cursing kidz) :)
Maranna More than 1 year ago
The book, Chomp, featured two main characters in the beginning. Mickey Cray is one of them and he has an interesting past. He has a major concussion because of an over population of iguanas and so when a big frost hit, it froze them in a tree but no one knew that and so when he sat under a tree one fell down and hit him over the head. He now suffers from a bad concussion and the vision of seeing double. The other character is his son Wahoo who helps and takes care of his father while his mother is in china earning money to take care of the hospital bill. But something that makes Wahoo and his father different than ordinary people is that they own a whole backyard full of funky critters that you would never dream to have in your backyard. As the story goes on, Mickey and his son, both animal wranglers, have an exciting event that could change their life forever. How about a big movie star named Derek Badger who is on a TV show called Expedition Survival, where he has to survive in the wilderness. His signature is to catch critters and eat them, but what makes this celebrity so important is that Mickey gets a job offer from them. Also in the story is a young girl named Tuna who ran away to the Everglades with Wahoo and his father for a video shoot for the show. Next, Derek Badgers true identity is exposed to many people. The true identity isn’t all that good and could cost Derek his job. I would recommend this book because it was very suspense filled like the photo shoot in the Everglades that always kept me in suspense. The book also told a brave story at the end and even a little lesson on child abuse that was truly and eye opener. Finally, I found the book to be filled with action like water boat high speed chases or just funny quotes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read all of carl hiassens florida series and luv them all so much. My friends luv them too. So happy he's making another. Cant wait for it to come out!!! Will pre-order it. This is Nicole age 12 and in the 7th grade.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The perfect book for book project. An amazing book that you can't put down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is awsome!!!!
AstroMarco13 More than 1 year ago
This new realistic fiction novel by Carl Hiaasen continues his tradition of protecting the Floridian environment and strikes a tone with most young readers. I read this book because I have read all his other environmental novels, and I like how he finally writes a novel involving more alligators as they are the most recognizable Floridian species. Now even though it had some unoriginal jokes and some unbelievable scenes (such as the crew of the survival show actually paying attention to the main character even though he is 12 years old), it contains some material, like guns and alcoholism, aimed at higher audiences. This book would find its ground for middle schoolers as they are not too young or too old. The book starts off as the main character, Wahoo Cray, has to deal with his dad who sustained a concussion. This disrupts the family income as Mickey Cray is an animal wrangler. Things get worse for Wahoo as his mom, who teaches senior executives how to speak Mandarin, leaves to work in China over the summer. To get extra income Wahoo and Mickey sign a contract with the reality show Expedition Survival!, but soon start to dislike the show as its “Super Star”, Derek Badger, is a complete fake. As they are filming in the Everglades, Derek gets lost and they have to form a search party. Soon everyone gets lost and there is an interesting turn of events when they are about to get rescued. You will not put the book down as there are some cliffhangers that will keep you hooked. The book could use some improving, especially with the dialogue and some unbelievable scenes, but I would still recommend the novel if you’re in the mood to read something, but don’t plan on an in-depth read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Carl Hiassin is a-w-e-s-o-m-e!!! He is an great author for children who love awesome stuff! He is very detailed and comes up with creative ideas with amazing gusto and grace!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
X2 awsomenesssssssssss!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Omg sooooo good i love this author if you liked it i recomend HOOT
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love it so much
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book read it at school best frecking book ever. BooYha
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Carl Haaisen is definetly one of my favorite authors. He has wrote so many instresting books that can get u hooked on his writing. Chomp is just another fantasticly written by him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best author ever. He rights both of my favorite books, this one and flush. YOU HAVE TO READ IT!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im reading this currently so dont ruin anything for me! Kind of boring in the beggining but makes up for it in the end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome! Im an avid reader (and im pretty young too) and i love this series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am reading this book and I LOVE IT!!!!!!Everybody would like this book because it is funny and easy to read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so awesome and has a lot of action.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Laughs by the dozon in the story and awsome animals from the everglades.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book. Itis exciting. I have not finished it but it is awsome,!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am nine and i will turn ten in april15
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a really good book. And im only in middle school. Its very interesting. It keeps u interested through the whole book. :):):):):):):):)):)):)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Th author really knows how to write. I have read the whole series and I could not wait for this book to come out. It did not dissapoint. I can not even describe how good this book is!