Pubisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (releases March 27, 2012)
Source: Received a review copy from publisher
Genre: Middle Grade, Humorous Adventure
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”. . . .
One of my favorite places to visit is the Florida Everglades. It is only a few hours south of where I live, and a place I consider to be extremely beautiful and dangerous. There is a particular tourist attraction that takes customers on an airboat ride. My first trip with them was thrilling because we had someone with a Steve Irwin personality. He loved describing everything; birds, plants, gators, the whole eco-system of the Everglades. The highlight was getting to hold a live alligator. When I was given the opportunity to read and review Chomp by Carl Hiaasen I was so excited. It had gators, reality TV, and the Florida Everglades. In my mind it was everything you could ask for in a book.
The story starts off funny, with a serious undertone that runs through it. Wahoo’s father has been unable to work since a frozen iguana fell from a tree and hit him in the head causing a concussion. His mother has picked up the slack. Now she has been called out of the country to teach her clients for a few months. With their finances in a mess she takes the job, leaving her husband and the zoo in Wahoo’s hands. Shortly after she leaves, Wahoo’s dad receives a call from “Expedition Survival” wanting to use some of their animals in their reality TV show. Wahoo’s father Mickey accepts and tries his hardest to work through his pain. Then he meets Derek, the biggest jerk.
Derek was one of those characters that you will love to hate. He is so full of himself as a star that he thinks when he snaps his fingers people should jump. He makes decisions that could get him killed just because he believes what everyone on the show tells him. This puts not only himself in danger, but also those around him.
I loved Wahoo’s character. He not only truly cares about the animals but about people. The story is full of bullies. Derek bullies everyone on his show into doing what he wants. Tuna’s father is the biggest bully of all. Tuna is the young girl who shows up to hide from her abusive father. We get a good look at reality TV and it makes you wonder how real it is. Like Hiaasen’s previous books, “Hoot”, “Flush”, and “Scat”, we find environmental themes running throughout this book. It is another great book to add to the shelf, to your collection of books by this great author. I can’t wait to put this on my shelf at school. The timing could not be better. We are currently reading “Flush” as a class. I know I will have students “chomping at the bit”.