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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Family Friday Review: Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

This hilarious book satirising TV survivalists will delight kids from 8 or so.

Author: Carl Hiaasen
Title: Chomp
Genre: comedy/adventure (kids/teen)
Publisher: Orion Children's
Published: 5 Apr 2012
Source: kindly provided for review by the publisher

Find it at Amazon UK  

The blurb says:
The Everglades at night are a tangle of waterways and slithering things. A place of moonlight, mystery and menace. Wahoo's dad is an animal wrangler (who's not quite feeling himself, after an unfortunate incident with a frozen iguana) so his boy has grown up with a menagerie, including an alligator named Alice, in the backyard. Even so Wahoo doesn't want to be here - lost in the Everglades - especially with the slightly crazed Derek Badger, self-styled star of the Expedition Survival TV show, on the loose along with 'gators, snakes, bats and a gun-toting father out looking for his runaway daughter. It's anyone's guess who will survive . . . and who will get chomped!

My verdict: crazy and hilarious fun for kids, teens and adults.
I believe this book will have very wide appeal. It is silly in a crazy-fun way and had me laughing out loud (which isn't great on the bus ...). It also doesn't have any elements which are unsuitable for the tween crowd, whilst also being likely to amuse teens as well. At the same time, it is thought-provoking about more serious themes including environmentalism and media responsibility.

Wahoo is a great character, and the story is mostly focused on him and his interactions with the world. Responsible and cautious, he takes care of his father who is not really functioning after having had a frozen iguana fall on his head. This is one of those stories where the grown ups can be less sensible and more problematic than the kids, and chaos naturally ensues.

The writing is drily witty, achieving hilarity without overdoing the silliness (I write as one who didn't enjoy Mr Gum - please no hate mail). Catastrophes are piled up with no regard to the bounds of realism, but the writing is strong enough that it really doesn't matter. Although several situations in the book are patently unlikely, I remained completely lost in its world, simply enjoying the ride.

Having been cheered up enormously losing myself in Wahoo and co's misadventures, I would urge you to read this. Boys and girls, kids and grown ups: there's definitely something for everyone to enjoy here.

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