Carl Hiaasen has galloped into the world of slapstick comedy and those nature shows on television that are anything but daring and dangerous. Meet Wahoo, I'd say he's about twelve, and his father, Mickey Cray, who is a professional animal wrangler. Now, Mickey has just suffered the great indignity of having a frozen iguana fall out of a tree and land on him giving him a lulu of a concussion. The guy is seeing double, in debt and cranky.
Enter Derek Badger, occasionally referred to as Mr. Beaver, who is the star of "Expedition Survival, " a television show on the Untamed Network. Derek is videotaped parachuting into the wilds, eating luckless creatures, and generally muttering quietly into a microphone about the danger and unknowns he is about to experience.
But reality television this is not as just off-camera is the helicopter Derek uses to fly to his suite filled with Brie and some creme-filled desserts which awaits along with the fully-equipped RV and the stuntman who does the real parachuting. But the illusion must be preserved so Derek and entourage have arrived in the Everglades to shoot an action-packed show and Mickey Cray is hired to handle the wild animals with his son, Wahoo, in tow. Out come the snakes, the bats, a gun-wielding, beer drinking abusive father, and Derek who fears he is becoming a vampire. The story has wonderful comedic timing and imaginative twists of plot. Highly entertaining and great for reluctant readers.
I have to say one thing that I don't think will bother kids but did bother me. About a third of the way into the book a young lady named Tuna appears and becomes a partner in adventure for Wahoo. Tuna has a big black eye courtesy of her father. This father becomes the focal figure for the climax of the story but I felt so uncomfortable with how the whole child abuse theme was handled. It just didn't seem real to me. That was certainly in keeping with the tone of this story but I just felt that kids who are being punched and abused deserved a better understanding. The pain they feel goes beyond skin deep. Sigh.
Some language. Ages 9-13 290 pages
ALSC Tween Recommended Reads http://www.ala.org/alsc/sites/ala.org.alsc/files/content/Tween13_RecReadsList.pdf