Friday, July 9, 2010

Guest Reviewer: Emma

I am extremely fortunate this week to have another guest reviewer. Emma is 12 and she is going to talk about the Young Adult novel SCAT from Carl Hiassen. I'm so excited that she chose this book to read and review because I, too, want to read Carl Hiassen. My good friend bought me one of his books for Christmas, so I was anxious to hear what Emma had to say about SCAT.

I want to let Emma take over right away and then I have a couple comments to share after, so Emma, take it away, girl!

Title: SCAT
Author: Carl Hiaasen
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Reviewed by: Emma W.

1. Give a short summary of your book, but remember not to give away the ending.

Two children, Nick and Marta, are worried because their biology teacher went missing during a fire in the Black Vine Swamp. No one knew who set the fire but all clues point to Nick and Marta’s classmate, Duane Scrod Jr.

At the same time, Red Diamond Energy Corporation is illegally drilling oil in Florida’s land, so they may have set the fire to get rid of any sign of the rare Florida panther that might be found in their illegal drilling site, which will get Red Diamond sued.

2. Who is your story’s protagonist? How does the author develop this character (i.e., how does the author describe the character? How does the character talk? How does the character act with other characters? Does your character have special skills or talents?)

The protagonist in SCAT is Nick Waters. The author doesn’t actually give a description of the character, but throughout the story, I could tell that his character is friendly, fights for good causes, and is impulsive (but in a good way.) Nick could easily get along with anyone. He and his best friend Marta have many differences, but they’re still friends. His dad lost his right arm in Iraq, and I thought that it was sweet how Nick wanted to be just like his dad by tying his own arm behind his back. It seems that Nick has a big heart.

3. Besides the protagonist, who was your favorite character in the book and why?

My favorite character from SCAT is a man named Twilly because he was very environmental and always subtle about how he would try to stand up for his beliefs against harming the swamp and animals in the story. He wasn’t mentioned many times in the book, but I loved his character.

4. Describe the setting. How does it affect the plot? Could this book take place anywhere or is the setting essential?

The main setting in the story is the Black Vine Swamp. It has tons of different plant and animal life. The author described it as damp and murky, but also really beautiful because of all the pretty flowers and animals. It affected the plot because that is where Red Diamond had illegal land and was trying to kill the Florida panther. I think this setting is essential and also applies to other swamps in addition to Black Vine Swamp.

5. Describe a theme that the author uses in the book. Do you think the author did a good job developing the theme? Why or why not?

The theme of SCAT is about nature and what we can do to keep it from getting damaged even more than it already is. I think the author did a great job of developing the environmental theme, because he put it into a fun story that kids can relate to.

6. What did you like about the book?

I like that Carl Hiaasen did really well on giving the impression that kids can help the planet just as well as adults can.

7. What did you not like about the book?

To be honest, I didn’t like how the author made girls look like they’re supposed to be scared of everything and that they’re not capable of doing everything that boys can. I realized that when Marta always said things like, “No, I can’t do that. It’s too scary,” or “Eeeeewww!!!! I’m getting mud all over my new converse!!!”

8. Who would you recommend this book to?

I would recommend this book to all kid readers who like animals, mysteries, or stories about friendship. I highly recommend this book because it’s great!

Thank you so much, Emma! First I have to say what an intuitive reader you are. I'm very impressed with things you picked up on in the book and I'm pretty sure Carl Hiaasen would be impressed with your reading as well! And especially good for you on noticing Marta's character; a lot of readers would have missed those details. I'm really glad that you had fun reading SCAT and that you liked it. It has so many themes that I like in it, I'm going to have to check this one out myself. Most of all, thanks for sharing it with us. I'm not an expert on mystery books for young adults, so it's extremely helpful to have someone review who IS! You are welcome to review books for us any time you'd like!

Thanks Emma! And readers, Emma will probably stop by, so if you have questions or comments for her, be sure to leave them in the comments section. Happy Reading!

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kathy d. July 9, 2010 at 3:51 AM  

Fantastic review by Emma! A lot of perception about the book, characters and environmental issues.
And good to point out the author's depiction of girls as being scared of doing things or getting dirty. Not so!
And very important to say that kids can help to protect the environment, too. It's true.

Hope to see many more reviews by you.

Anonymous July 9, 2010 at 7:17 AM  

Excellent review, Emma. I want to read the book now. Thanks for sharing your insights.

Anonymous July 9, 2010 at 7:52 AM  

Great job, Emma! Did you read HOOT? Now I have another book to add to my summer reading stack!

bermudaonion July 9, 2010 at 9:43 AM  

What a fantastic review - I'm very impressed with Emma's insight. I think she just may be a future book blogger!

jwajw July 9, 2010 at 4:41 PM  

Wow, Emma! I didn't read this before you sent it in. Even though I'm suppose to be impressed because I'm your mother, I'm really, truly impressed! Now, I want to read the book! Great job, girl!!!

Alafair Burke July 9, 2010 at 5:19 PM  

I think we have yet another author in the family. Proud of you, Emma. Aunt Alafair

Lauren July 9, 2010 at 5:30 PM  

Great job, Emma! I'm going to go get this one for my nephews (and maybe one for my own self, too!). Thanks for sharing this with us, keep up the great work and keep reading!

trish July 9, 2010 at 5:53 PM  

Wow! I can't believe Emma is only 12!! My only question is what she'll be reviewing next. :)

Lynne July 9, 2010 at 5:55 PM  

Incisive review, Emma. You've got a good eye for what's in a book.

I will seriously consider SCAT for our school library based on your review.

Emma July 9, 2010 at 8:55 PM  

Thank you for all the great comments! It was so much fun to write a review that I feel "hooked." Thank you, Jen, for the opportunity.


Kathy C. July 10, 2010 at 12:36 AM  

Emma, I loved your observation that the author never described Nick but you still got a full picture of who he is. To me, that is the sign of a great author and an astute reader. It alone makes me want to read the book. Thank you for a great review.

Kathy C.

Pop Culture Nerd July 11, 2010 at 9:07 PM  

Are you sure you're not 35, Emma? This is a very smart, insightful review. I like how Nick tied his own arm behind his back to learn empathy, and really like what you said about Marta being so girly. That would bug me, too!

I love Carl Hiaasen but have never read his YA books. Based on your review, I think I should start.

Serena July 13, 2010 at 9:46 AM  

What a great review from Emma! Thanks so much for sharing that review. I always disliked books in which girls were shying away from outdoor stuff, etc. I was so the opposite as a kid.

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