Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012
Suggested Ages: 10-12
An action-packed tale, plenty of hilarious situations, some fun and interesting animal facts, a bit of social commentary, and well-drawn, realistic characters add up to make this one wild adventure that kids and adults alike won’t want to miss!Meet the Cray family of Florida: Wahoo Cray’s dad, Mickey, is a professional animal wrangler, and the family’s backyard is a pretty wild place; it’s a real zoo! However, over the years, his dad’s unpredictable behavior and terrible business sense have led to a steady decline in income, and when Wahoo’s mom is forced to take a long term job in China in order to pay the bills, Wahoo is left to help manage the animals AND his temperamental dad. When Mickey agrees to take on an on-location job in the Everglades with a reality television show, no one is prepared for the chaos that will ensue.The host of Expedition Survival! is the world famous Derek Badger, who turns out to be a pampered, egotistical and idiotic fool. Not only does he fake all of the adventures in the episodes of his show, he has little or no regard for anyone or anything that won’t help him continue his rise to fame and stardom. Mickey has no patience for Derek’s antics, and has no problem telling him what a joke he is, much to everyone’s chagrin. Wahoo knows how important this job is to his family’s finances, and he does everything he can to keep his dad and Derek from coming to full-out blows. On top of all that, as Mickey and Wahoo are getting ready to leave for the Everglades, a classmate of Wahoo’s, Tuna, decides to tag along in order to escape her abusive alcoholic dad. Wahoo and Tuna end up developing a great friendship, and it’s a good thing, since it will take the two of them to get through the adventure they’re in for!On the shelf, Chomp will smartly take its place right alongside Carl Hiaasen’s previous iconic and colorful novels for young readers, Hoot, Flush and Scat. Its bright yellow cover and graphic alligator will surely grab kids’ attention and lure them in for this fantastic story.Chomp does tackle a few heavy issues: animal cruelty, financial hardship and homelessness, reality television, alcoholism, abuse, conservation and protection of wildlife resources. However, with Hiaasen’s well-loved style and humor, the issues are smoothly-meshed with this zany and unpredictable story, and readers of all ages will learn a few lessons along the way.Reviewed by KSDTHEMES: ANIMALS. FMAILY LIFE. FRIENDSHIP.