Booktalk for SCAT by Carl Hiaasen

Scat-e1440692591329Students at the Truman School are terrified of the biology teacher, Mrs. Starch. She is so mean, she makes anyone who throws up in class write a paper on the five major muscles used in regurgitation.

Like everyone else, Nick and his friend Marta are scared of their teacher. But they also get worried when Mrs. Starch never returns from a field trip to Black Vine Swamp in the Everglades. The headmaster says she is away on a “Family Emergency,” but to Nick, things just aren’t adding up.

First of all, Mrs. Starch has no relatives, so how can she possibly have a family emergency?

The teacher was last seen heading back into the swamp alone to retrieve a student’s asthma inhaler. A wildfire was heading straight toward her.

There’s also the fact that the day before the field trip, Mrs. Starch humiliated the class delinquent in front of other students. The boy, known as Smoke, threatened the teacher that she’d be sorry. (Then he chomped her pencil in half and swallowed it down.)

When Nick and Marta start to investigate, things get even more baffling. There’s a guy wearing a black ski cap and ammunition belt driving Mrs. Starch’s car around town, and they think they see their classmate Smoke in the passenger seat.

What is going on? Was Smoke involved with Mrs. Starch’s disappearance? Can Nick and Marta find out what has happened to their teacher? Or would it be safer not to get involved?

Genre: humor, mystery/thriller

Grades 5-8