A great book to read with boys – but read it with them

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

This is a serious, and funny, and seriously interesting book. I enjoyed it. Loads. But it’s got some pretty complex content that adults should at least be ready to talk about. But that’s okay ’cause it’s short and funny and I’m pretty sure regular adults would like it too.

Wahoo Cray isn’t exactly a normal kid. His father, Mickey Cray is a professional animal wrangler who specializes in alligators, snakes and reptiles. But Michey Cray hasn’t been able to work for a long time, after a frozen iguana fell out of a tree and gave him a serious concussion. Wahoo’s mom left for Shanghai to work so they could make up a few mortgage payments and Wahoo decides to accept an easy job with the reality TV show called Expedition Survival. But the show’s star, the ridiculous Derek Badger is more then anyone bargained for. Wahoo and Mickey find themselves in the Everglades with a TV crew, a survivalist who can’t survive a night without a 5 star hotel and one of Wahoo’s classmates, a girl named Tuna who’s on the run from her drunk and abusive father.

So, the reason this book should be read with kids, girls too obviously, but it’s got short sentences and lots of action which would probably appeal to boys particularly, is because of the ultimate villain: Tuna’s father. Child abuse is a pretty heavy subject and Chomp does a really straight up job of it. Tuna is both a victim and a hero, just for surviving as long as she has. There’s no glossing over, not even a perfectly satisfying ending for the bastard. The alcohol abuse isn’t shown off stage, or made into a kind of stoic brooding drinking. It happens there and includes all the other rather nasty aspects of heavy drinking. On top of that there’s lots of complicated concepts like invasive species, first aid and minor gore, plus some pretty devastating critiques of the celebrity culture and “reality” TV.

But here are all the reasons adults won’t mind reading it. One: it’s funny. Both the short, blunt, to the point writing and the almost impossible but somehow totally plausible situations the characters find themselves in. Two: there are adult jokes slipped in and they are funny. Three: the characters are great. Four: All the reasons your kids should read it. Because it’s a great book about real stuff and reading encourages empathy, even for people who aren’t real.

Also, as a Canadian I found it really weird that everyone just has a gun hanging around. For serious guys, why does everyone have a gun?

Last movie I watched:

Fingersmith! My first ever period piece lesbian love story. It was great.

Last TV episode I watched:

Charmed!

On a non-related note… ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK ENDED LIKE WHAT!?!?

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