CARL HIAASEN was born and raised in Florida. He writes a column for the Miami Herald and is the author of many bestselling novels including Bad Monkey, Star Island, and Nautre Girl. His books for younger readers include the Newbery Honor winner Hoot, as well as Flush, Scat, and Chomp. Skink--No Surrender was Hiaasen's first book for teens and features one of his most iconic characters, the reclusive ex-governor of Florida now known as Skink. You can read more about Hiaasen's work at carlhiaasen.com. From the Hardcover edition.
An animal wrangler named Mickey Cray and his son, Wahoo, whose Florida home and yard house alligators, snakes, and other wildlife, reluctantly take on the job of supplying animals for a reality television show called Expedition Survival!-the host of which, Derek Badger, is actually a dimwitted fraud. Contrasting with amusing scenes of Badger's less-than-successful tangles with wildlife is a tense plot about Jared-the abusive father of Wahoo's friend Tuna-who comes to the Everglades with a gun looking for his daughter. But it all has a happy ending, thanks to some heroics from an unlikely source. Narrator James Van Der Beek strikes exactly the right note in his narration: a dry, ironic delivery that lets both the humorous and tense moments play out effectively. He also creates distinctive character voices, particularly memorable are his renditions of Derek (who switches from a petulant American accent to a cheery, fake-Australian accent for the television camera) and the gravelly, menacing Jared. This is an entertaining audio romp with an enjoyable mix of comedy and action. Ages 10-up. A Knopf hardcover. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Gr 6-9-Carl Hiaasen takes on reality TV in his latest novel (Knopf, 2012). Wahoo Cray is the assistant to his wild animal wrangler father. Their property holds everything from alligators to Bobcats that appear in TV shows and films. However, after Wahoo's father suffers a serious injury, debts pile up and his mother takes a temporary job in China. It also forces Wahoo and his father to accept a lucrative but questionable gig with the reality show, "Expedition Survival." James Van Der Beek's narration captures the cast of colorful characters in this fast-paced, humorous story. His vocal depiction of Wahoo is spot on, and he easily changes gears to play a variety of adults, including Wahoo's gruff but caring father. Derek Badger, the host of the reality show, is expertly drawn as a bumbling buffoon who has managed to convince viewers he is a survivalist. Van Der Beek is at his best with Badger's character, making a fake Aussie accent sound almost, but not quite authentic. As the story moves from being about filming a TV show to an action tale complete with boat chases and a gun-toting baddie, the narrator keeps it all in check, easily changing voices, while also acting as an excellent tour guide of the Florida Everglades thanks to Hiassen's lyrically descriptive text. A fun listen.-Shari Fesko, Southfield Public Library, MI (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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." From the Hardcover edition.