Scat (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

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Overview

Nick and his friend Marta decide to investigate when a mysterious fire starts near a Florida wildlife preserve and an unpopular teacher goes missing.

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Scat

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Overview

Nick and his friend Marta decide to investigate when a mysterious fire starts near a Florida wildlife preserve and an unpopular teacher goes missing.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Most other students don't seem too upset that teacher Bunny Starch is not at school, but Nick and Marta are convinced that something isn't quite right. The stern biology instructor hasn't been seen since she was puddling around Black Vine Swamp on a recent field trip. True, there is a vague, unsigned note about a family emergency, but our young sleuths aren't buying it. Carl Hiaasen's second foray into young reader fiction (after Flush) displays anew his talent for creating likable characters and self-propelling plots.
David Pogue
Not many authors are equally successful at writing books for adults and children, but Carl Hiaasen seems to have made an effortless transition…His latest, Scat, won't disappoint Hiaasenphiles of any age…the ingenious plotting makes Scat more engrossing than either of its predecessors. The characters are richer—two of them turn out to be not at all the caricatures they seemed at first. And even the title is a clever pun, referring both to the good guys' message to the bad guys, and to the panther droppings that hold a key to the mystery. In short, Hiaasen's novels for younger readers seem to be maturing right along with them.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Hiaasen reprises Hoot with a panther in the owl role, an oil company as the villain and a rich renegade named Twilly Spree as the outlaw environmentalist determined to save Florida from developers. The kid hero is Nick Waters, saintly son of a minor league pitching coach who joined the National Guard to augment a meager salary, wound up in Iraq and has come back badly injured. Nick's ample worries multiply after his science teacher disappears while on a field trip to the Black Vine Swamp. When Nick goes to the aid of a classmate suspected of involvement in the teacher's disappearance, he stumbles onto dangerous facts about the swamp: an endangered Florida panther has taken up residence, and an oil company has begun an illegal drilling operation. Nick is way too good to be true-he's more the son every parent dreams of-but Hiaasen's smooth writing, whacked-out humor and highly entertaining cast of oddball characters keep the plot clipping along. The achievement is in the underlying earnestness-formulaic or not, the story will move readers, and any kid who loved Hoot will like this. Ages 10-up. (Jan.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
Written in the tradition of Hoot and Flush, Carl Hiaasen's latest work again features concerned teens tackling environmental issues head-on and exposing a corrupt plot in the process. But the plot here begins unusually, with the disappearance of a much hated teacher from a field trip to Black Vine Swamp. Students Nick and Marta are convinced that Mrs. Starch's disappearance is not due a "family emergency," as the principal states. After all, Mrs. Starch has no family! And no one has seen the teacher since the class field trip ended abruptly, with a fire in the swamp sending the students back to school and Mrs. Starch into the swamp to retrieve one girl's lost inhaler. Soon, Nick and Marta are up to their eyes in a mystery as thick as swamp muck with a solution as elusive as a Florida panther. Their prime suspect, the class delinquent named Smoke, turns out to have nothing to do with the disappearance—and yet, he just might be the key to solving it all. The danger is greater than the sleuthing pair can guess, and the foes—representatives from a thieving energy company—more formidable. Fans of Hiaasen's earlier works will enjoy this, too; newcomers to the author may prefer to begin with Hoot. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green
School Library Journal

Gr 5-8

Once again, Hiaasen has written an edge-of-the-seat eco-thriller. When their unpopular biology teacher goes missing in a suspicious fire during a field trip to the Black Vine Swamp, Nick and Marta don't buy the headmaster's excuse for her absence and decide to do some investigating of their own. Eco-avengers; an endangered, hunted panther; illegal pipelines in the Everglades; and an underachieving student with the nickname "Smoke" all play a part in this gripping novel. From the first sentence, readers will be hooked. The teens' dangerous detective work, with help from some unlikely sources, and the ethics of environmental awareness are well balanced. The emotion and personal changes that Nick goes through due to his father's injury in Iraq are on their own a worthy study of the struggles that military families are facing today. This well-written and smoothly plotted story, with fully realized characters, will certainly appeal to mystery lovers.-Dylan Thomarie, Johnstown High School, NY

Kirkus Reviews
During a field trip to Black Vine Swamp, a suspicious "wildfire" breaks out, and much-feared and -reviled science teacher Mrs. Starch vanishes. The school gets a letter stating she is away on a "family emergency," but no one believes that. Nick Waters and his friend Marta Gonzales are sure bad-boy Duane "Smoke" Scrod, Jr., is to blame for both fire and disappearance. However, there's more to Duane, Mrs. Starch and the fire than Nick or Marta could ever imagine. This is Hiaasen Country, so the complications include a rare Florida panther, a crooked oil company, a tree-hugging Hayduke of a millionaire and a couple of well-meaning-but-not-as-swift-as-the-kids detectives. Hiaasen's third outing for young readers might be a little slow in pacing and the character types might be recognizable to experienced readers, but fans of Hoot and Flush (2002, 2005) will not be disappointed by this funny, believable, environmentally friendly tween thriller. (Thriller. 10-15)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780606265324
  • Publisher: San Val, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/28/2012
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: THIS EDITION IS INTENDED FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY
  • Pages: 371
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 3.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Carl Hiaasen has been writing about Florida since his father gave him a typewriter at age six. Then it was hunt-and-peck stories about neighborhood kickball and softball games. Now Hiaasen writes a column for the Miami Herald and is the author of many bestselling novels, including Sick Puppy and Nature Girl.


Hoot, Hiaasen's first novel for young readers, was the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Newbery Honor. And Flush, his second book for kids, spent more than a year on the New York Times bestseller list.
 
You can read more about Hiaasen's work at www.carlhiaasen.com.
 

Biography

When one thinks of the classics of pulp fiction, certain things -- gruff, amoral antiheroes, unflinching nihilism, and a certain melodramatic self-seriousness -- inevitably come to mind. However, the novels of Carl Hiaasen completely challenge these pulpy conventions. While the pulp of yesteryear seems forever chiseled in an almost quaint black and white world, Hiaasen's books vibrate with vivid color. They are veritable playgrounds for wild characters that flout clichés: a roadkill-eating ex-governor, a bouncer/assassin who takes care of business with a Weed Wacker, a failed alligator wrestler named Sammy Tigertail. Furthermore, Hiaasen infuses his absurdist stories with a powerful dose of social and political awareness, focusing on his home turf of South Florida with an unflinching keenness.

Hiaasen was born and raised in South Florida. During the 1970s, he got his start as a writer working for Cocoa Today as a public interest columnist. However, it was his gig as an investigative reporter for The Miami Herald that provided him with the fundamentals necessary for a career in fiction. "I'd always wanted to write books ever since I was a kid," Hiaasen told Barnes & Noble.com. "To me, the newspaper business was a way to learn about life and how things worked in the real world and how people spoke. You learn all the skills -- you learn to listen, you learn to take notes -- everything you use later as a novelist was valuable training in the newspaper world. But I always wanted to write novels."

Hiaasen made the transition from journalism to fiction in 1981 with the help of fellow reporter Bill Montalbano. Hiaasen and Montalbano drew upon all they had learned while covering the Miami beat in their debut novel Powder Burn, a sharp thriller about the legendary Miami cocaine trade, which the New York Times declared an "expertly plotted novel." The team followed up their debut with two more collaborative works before Hiaasen ventured out on his own with Tourist Season, an offbeat murder mystery that showcased the author's idiosyncratic sense of humor.

From then on, Hiaasen's sensibility has grown only more comically absurd and more socially pointed, with a particular emphasis on the environmental exploitation of his beloved home state. In addition to his irreverent and howlingly funny thrillers (Double Whammy, Sick Puppy, Nature Girl, etc), he has released collections of his newspaper columns (Kick Ass, Paradise Screwed) and penned children's books (Hoot, Flush). With his unique blend of comedy and righteousness ("I can't be funny without being angry."), the writer continues to view hallowed Florida institutions -- from tourism to real estate development -- with a decidedly jaundiced eye. As Kirkus Reviews has wryly observed, Hiassen depicts "...the Sunshine State as the weirdest place this side of Oz."

Good To Know

Perhaps in keeping with his South Floridian mindset, Hiaasen keeps snakes as housepets. He says on his web site, "They're clean and quiet. You give them rodents and they give you pure, unconditional indifference."

Hiaasen is also a songwriter: He's co-written two songs, "Seminole Bingo" and "Rottweiler Blues", with Warren Zevon for the album Mutineer. In turn, Zevon recorded a song based on the lyrics Hiaasen had written for a dead rock star character in Basket Case.

In Hiaasen's novel Nature Girl, he gets the opportunity to deal with a long-held fantasy. "I'd always fantasized about tracking down one of these telemarketing creeps and turning the tables -- phoning his house every night at dinner, the way they hassle everybody else," he explains on his web site. "In the novel, my heroine takes it a whole step farther. She actually tricks the guy into signing up for a bogus ‘ecotour' in Florida, and then proceeds to teach him some manners. Or tries."

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    1. Hometown:
      Tavernier, Florida
    1. Education:
      Emory University; B.A., University of Florida, 1974

Read an Excerpt

The day before Mrs. Starch vanished, her third-period biology students trudged silently, as always, into the classroom. Their expressions reflected the usual mix of dread and melancholy, for Mrs. Starch was the most feared teacher at the Truman School.

When the bell rang, she unfolded stiffly, like a crane, and rose to her full height of nearly six feet. In one hand she twirled a sharpened Ticonderoga No. 2 pencil, a sure sign of trouble to come.

Nick glanced across the aisle at Marta Gonzalez. Her brown eyes were locked on Mrs. Starch, and her thin elbows were planted like fence posts, pinning her biology book open to Chapter 8. Nick had left his own textbook in his locker, and his palms were sweating.

"Good morning, people," said Mrs. Starch, in a tone so mild that it was chilling. "Who's prepared to tell me about the Calvin cycle?"

Only one hand rose. It belonged to Graham, who always claimed to know the answers but never did. Mrs. Starch hadn't called on him since the first week of class.

"The Calvin cycle," she repeated. "Anybody?"

Marta looked as if she might throw up again. The last time that had happened, Mrs. Starch had barely waited until the floor was mopped before instructing Marta to write a paper listing five major muscles used in the act of regurgitation.

Nick and the other students had been blown away. What kind of teacher would punish a kid for puking?

"By now," Mrs. Starch was saying, "the photosynthetic process should be familiar to all of you."

Marta gulped hard, twice. She'd been having nightmares about Mrs. Starch, who wore her dyed blondhair piled to one side of her head, like a beach dune. Mrs. Starch's school wardrobe never varied: a polyester pants suit in one of four faded pastel colors, and drab brown flats. She painted heavy violet makeup on her eyelids, yet she made no effort to conceal an odd crimson mark on her chin. The mark was the shape of an anvil and the subject of wild speculation, but nobody had gotten up the nerve to ask Mrs. Starch about it.

Marta's eyes flicked miserably toward Nick, then back to the teacher. Nick was fond of Marta, although he wasn't sure if he liked her enough to sacrifice himself to Mrs. Starch, who had begun to pace. She was scanning the class, selecting a victim.

A droplet of perspiration glided like a spider down Nick's neck. If he worked up the courage to raise his hand, Mrs. Starch would pounce swiftly. Right away she'd see that he had forgotten his biology book, a crime that would be forgiven only if Nick was able to explain and then diagram the Calvin cycle, which was unlikely. Nick was still struggling to figure out the Krebs cycle from Chapter 7.

"Plants, as we all know, are vital to human existence," said Mrs. Starch, on patrol. "And without the Calvin cycle, plants could not exist. Could not exist_._._."

Graham was waving his arm and squirming like a puppy. The rest of the class prayed that Mrs. Starch would call on him, but she acted as if he were invisible. Abruptly she spun to a halt at the front of Marta's row.

Marta sat rigidly in the second desk, behind a brainy girl named Libby who knew all about the Calvin cycle—all about everything—but seldom made a peep.

"The chart on page 169," Mrs. Starch went on, "makes it all plain as day. It's an excellent illustration, and one that you are likely to encounter on a test. Quite likely_._._."

Marta lowered her head, a tactical mistake. The movement, slight as it was, caught Mrs. Starch's attention.

Nick sucked in a breath. His heart raced and his head buzzed, because he knew that it was now or never. Marta seemed to shrink under Mrs. Starch's icy gaze. Nick could see tears forming at the corners of Marta's eyes, and he hated himself for hesitating.

"Come on, people, snap out of your coma," Mrs. Starch chided, tapping the pencil on Libby's desk. "The Calvin cycle?"

The only reply was a ripping noise—Marta's trembling elbows, tearing holes in the pages of her book.

Mrs. Starch frowned. "I was hoping for a sea of hands," she said with a disappointed sigh. "But, once again, it seems I'll have to pick a volunteer. An unwilling volunteer_._._."

As the teacher pointed her pencil at the top of Marta's head, Nick raised his hand.

I'm toast, he thought. She's gonna crush me like a bug.

Lowering his eyes, he braced to hear Mrs. Starch call his name.

"Oh, Duane?" she sang out.

Great, Nick thought. She forgot who I am.

But when he looked up, he saw the teacher aiming her pencil at another kid on the other side of the classroom. The mean old bird had totally faked him out, and Marta, too.

The other kid's name really was Duane, and Nick had known him since elementary school, when he was two years ahead of Nick and known as Duane the Dweeb. One summer, Duane the Dweeb grew five inches and gained thirty-one pounds, and from then on everybody called him Smoke, because that's what he wanted to be called. Some kids said it was because he was a pyro.

"So, Duane," Mrs. Starch said sweetly. "Have you finished Chapter 8?"
Rumpled and sleepy-looking, Smoke grunted and raised his eyes toward the teacher. Nick couldn't see his expression, but the slump of his shoulders suggested a profound lack of interest.

"Duane?"

"I guess I read it, yeah."

"You guess?" Using a thumb and two fingers, Mrs. Starch spun the yellow pencil into a blur, like a miniature airplane propeller. Under less stressful circumstances it would have been entertaining.

"I read so much," Smoke said, "I forget which is which."

Several students struggled to smother giggles.

Marta reached across the aisle, nudged Nick, and mouthed the words "Thank you."

Nick felt his face redden.

"For raising your hand," Marta whispered.

Nick shrugged. "No big deal," he whispered back.

Mrs. Starch moved across the classroom and positioned herself beside Smoke's desk. "I see you brought your biology book today," she said.

"That's progress, Duane."

"I guess."

"But you'll find that it's much easier to read when it's not upside down." Mrs. Starch rotated the textbook, using the eraser end of her No. 2 pencil.

Smoke nodded. "Yeah, that's better."

He tried to flip open the book, but Mrs. Starch pressed down firmly with the pencil, holding the cover closed.

"No peeking," she said. "Tell me how the Calvin cycle produces sugar from carbon dioxide, and why that's so important to photosynthesis."

"Gimme a minute." Smoke casually began to pick at a nasty-looking zit on his meaty, fuzz-_covered neck.

Mrs. Starch said, "We're all waiting," which was true. The other students, including Nick and Marta, were on the edge of their seats.

They were aware that something major and possibly legendary was about to occur, though they had no clue that within forty-eight hours they would each be questioned by sheriff's deputies and asked to tell what they'd seen and heard.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 470 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(303)

4 Star

(85)

3 Star

(45)

2 Star

(11)

1 Star

(26)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 476 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 8, 2009

    Scat- a great story!!

    Nick Waters and his friend, Marta, go to the private Truman School in Florida.Everything is pretty normal there; average students, a few nasty teachers (like the biology teacher, Mrs.Starch.) and the known school bully-trouble maker, Duane Scrod Jr.
    But a few days before Nick's Biology class goes on a field trip to the Black Vine Swamp, an incident occurs. Duane becomes very mad at Mrs.Starch for humiliating him in front of the class and eats her pencil right out of her hand! Tehn he storms out of the class room and doesn't come back to school for awhile.

    When Nick and Marta's class goes to the Black Vine Swamp, a small wildfire breaks out. Everyone is ordered to leave. But, Mrs. Starch stays behind to retrieve a student's inhaler. She goes missing. later, it is found out that the fire was arson and not an accidnet. What is going on? Where did Mrs.Starhc go, and does it involve Duane? Read to find out!!

    It starts out slow, but gets better. I like the theme and where it takes place. A very good book; great for kids and pre-teens to read.

    24 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 9, 2012

    Wow

    Great book with amazing plots and characters i highly recommend it

    15 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2010

    It's For Everyone

    Scat, by Carl Hiassen, is another young adult book that entertains. It has a combination of variety in settings and characters, and a strong plot, and is his best book yet.
    The book has a complex plot with many small details that slowly tie together. The main issues are to bust an illegal oil drilling operation and to return a panther cub to its mother.
    There are a wide variety of characters, including the noble teenage hero, a tough biology teacher, and the idiotic, short-tempered antagonist.
    The book has many interesting settings, such as a wet, misty swamp, a creepy house in the wilderness, and a reputable school. Paris, France, Iraq, and Texas are not visited but are significant to the story.
    Overall, Hiassen has written a great book that closely resembles his earlier works for children. It's good variety and plot make it a perfect addition to anyone's library.

    13 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 8, 2012

    awesome

    this is the best book ever along wilth all the other books written by this author

    12 out of 16 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Excited

    Sounds good. i cant wait to read it. I hope it is as good as Flush and Hoot!!!

    12 out of 25 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2012

    This book rocks

    7 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2012

    Scat

    The book is about martha and nick go looking for their biology teacher in a swamp.
    LOVE THE ALL THE BOOKS

    6 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2012

    Scat

    The best mystery book i've ever read i luv this book sooooooo much

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2012

    Ok

    The book was ok not the best
    It was slow and easy
    I didnt like that the book was a jumble of parts divided into sections but it was good
    Average age group is 9-11

    4 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 1, 2012

    GOOD

    Its a good book. Its just good though. Nothing extra special. However, I like the storyline.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2012

    Book

    Love tis book scat means poop lol

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2012

    Anonymous

    This book is gr8! I recommend it 2 any1 who has been 2 Florida. It teaches you about some of the natural resources there without giving a boting read. This book has a mysterious touch! If you like adventures or mysteries this book is for you!

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2012

    The Best Book Ever!!!!!

    It was a book that cept me on the edge of my the whole time i read it i couldn't put it down. "Smoke" is the bulley or so they think. Who started the fire? Where is Mrs.Starch? You need to read the book to find out

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2012

    One of the BEST books ever!

    I read this at the same time my friend read it, and we both LOVED it! As soon as I finished it, I read Hoot and Flush. This is a must read for everyone of all ages!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2012

    Awesome

    This book is very good i would recomend it to anybody who likes animals and a good book

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2012

    SCAT - A "must read" book!

    This book is about two kids named Nick and Marta and they have this very strict teacher named Mrs. Startch as their bio teacher. Mrs. Startch takes their students on a field trip and they must leave suddenly due to a forest fire. One of Mrs. Startch's students left something in the forest and Mrs. Startch goes back in. Suddenly, she doesn't come out of the forest during the forest fire. Everyone thinks she is dead or she is missing. While the police do an investigation on this fire and the disappearance of Mrs. Startch, Dr. Dressler the headmaster of Truman School goes to her house and finds a letter addressed to him saying that she needs to leave due to a "sudden family emergency". Dr. Dressler and the police department think that a student, Duane Scrod Jr, a student that didn't like Mrs. Startch might have something to do with her disappearance. So when they hear this about Mrs. Startch's disappearance, they go to solve the mystery. Read this book by Carl Hiaasen to find out more on what happened to Mrs. Startch!

    Reading this book was an awesome experience. This book had a lot of excitement and suspense. It made me want to read more books by Carl Hiaasen and many authors like him because of the suspense and excitement they put into their books and stories."'This is so freaky, Nick.' Marta puffed her cheeks to let the air hiss out. 'I mean, I can't stand the woman, but still, to think her lost in that swamp..." (Hiaasen 54). I think this point proves how suspenseful this story is because Hiaasen leaves the reader with a "cliff hanger" on how they really think about her even though she is lost in the forest. This book left a lot of "cliff hangers" which made it a very suspenseful and exciting book to read.

    I would recommend this book to an audience that loves to read mysterious, suspenseful books. This book would be an excellent book for people who like suspenseful, mysterious books because of all of the suspense and mystery that Carl Hiaasen puts into this book. I have also read the "Series of Unfortunate Events" by Lemony Snicket and I think these books are also mysterious and suspenseful. These books remind me of "SCAT" because of all of the mystery and suspense Lemony Snicket puts into all 13 of his books in this series as well. If you like reading "SCAT" you would love reading "The Series of Unfortunate Events" because they have the same suspense, mystery, and their stories are very similar.

    My favorite scene in "SCAT" would probably have to be the scene when Dr. Dressler goes to Mrs. Startch's house to see what is up with her disappearance. I think that this is my favorite scene of the book because it is really suspenseful and it leads to her disappearance but Dr. Dressler thinks the reason of her disappearance is false. The reason of her disappearance is "a sudden family emergency" but according to Dr. Dressler and her school file, she has no family. I think this is the best scene because it leads the police to her disappearance, it was mysterious, and it was very suspenseful.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2012

    BEST BOOK EVERRRR!!!!!!!!!!

    This book was very goooooood no lie i would recommend this book if u want 2 read something AWESOME but seriously though this book is good and if your looking for a book with mystery trust me this is your book! And i am 12 yrs old byyyyyyaaaaaa!!!!!!!!
    :)

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2011

    Scat

    Please take ny advice about this bestseller novel. If you are the type of person who likes mysteries with a twist of love, you'll absoulutly love this book. I have not met a single person who has a conplaint about it.

    Sincerily,

    Not telling you who i am but take my advice!!!

    PS: There aren't alot of "big words" like some of the other people posting are telling you.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2011

    Page turner -- even for adults

    I ordered this book for a 12-year old who is a reluctant reader. I began reading it myself and was intrigued -- partly because I am familiar with the location and partly because of the humor. Read the first chapter on line and you will be hooked! Enjoy!

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2012

    Okay

    It was a good book, but at times the plot was unrealistic. I was looking for a good realistic fiction and this book did okay. I recommend it to people who have read Hoot (by the same author) and enjoy environmental stories.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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