Monday, November 19, 2018

Middle Grade Monday and Audiobook Review: Squirm by Carl Hiassen

Squirm by Carl Hiassen. Unabridged downloadable audiobook. 7 hours. Narrated by Kirby Heybourne. Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group, September, 2018. (Audiobook borrowed from public library. Own print copy.)

Billy Dickens is a bit of an oddball. But he's an interesting one. He lives with his mother and older sister, his dad having left the family when Billy was about three. His mom doesn't talk at all about his dad, but he faithfully sends a check each month. His mom is out there as well. Though loving, she moves the family frequently. The reason? She needs to live near an active eagle family nest. Billy doesn't stay in one place for very long so he doesn't make friends. He loves nature and the outdoors. He really doesn't mind going eagle watching with his mom. He has a thing for justice and fighting for the underdog. He also loves snakes. He earned the nickname, "Snake Boy," when he used a bagful of rattlers to deter his classmates from breaking into his locker (long story). 

Billy decided that he's had enough of not-knowing about his father, pieces together the envelope containing the check and the return address and hops a plane to Montana where he plans on surprising his long-lost father. What he finds instead is his father's new family. Lil and her daughter, Summer  are members of the Crow Nation. They are okay with Billy's dad's frequent disappearances. With Summer and Lil's help, Billy sets out into the woods to find his elusive father. What they find is his truck with the tires slashed. But that is not enough to deter Billy.

Kirby Heybourne is one of my favorite narrators and he does a fantastic job narrating this twisty turny, hilarious mystery. His laid back, almost nonchalant delivery was perfectly paced. I am a fan of both Hiassen's adult and juvenile fare. I love his descriptions of the outdoors. He deftly skewers rich, selfish, hypocritical politicians and businessmen, in this case a big game hunter with a penchant for rare endangered animals. This one might be my favorite. My students who like mysteries and like to laugh really love Hoot and Flush. I can't wait to hear what they think of Squirm.

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