Squirm

Squirm

Some facts about Billy Dickens: * He once saw a biker swerve across the road in order to run over a snake. * Later, that motorcycle somehow ended up at the bottom of a canal. * Billy isn't the type to let things go.Some facts about Billy's family: * They've lived in six different Florida towns because Billy's mom always insists on getting a house near a bald eagle nest. *...

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Title:Squirm
Author:Carl Hiaasen
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Squirm Reviews

  • Jo Sorrell

    This is the story of a middle schooler navigating his way through bullies in and out of school and his dysfunctional family. Bullies are bad, but a dysfunctional family is not always the case. Maybe that word needs to be replaced in this evolving society. It is a fact for a great population of students I teach. I like the candour of life for Billy, Belinda and step sister Summer. The father aggravated me. He has his reasons, but I thought they were really excuses.

    Billy’s dad left when Billy was

    This is the story of a middle schooler navigating his way through bullies in and out of school and his dysfunctional family. Bullies are bad, but a dysfunctional family is not always the case. Maybe that word needs to be replaced in this evolving society. It is a fact for a great population of students I teach. I like the candour of life for Billy, Belinda and step sister Summer. The father aggravated me. He has his reasons, but I thought they were really excuses.

    Billy’s dad left when Billy wasn’t he was only 3. Checks arrive on the 10th of every month, and I mean a fairly substantial amount, nice to be sure. Billy’s mom destroys the envelopes to keep the return address from Billy and Belinda. We find out her reasoning for this at the end of our story. But, mom got careless and shortly before summer vacation, Billy pieces one together and discovers his father’s in Montana. All the moving around in his life has made Billy a brave and daring soul. He purchases a plane ticket to Montana to find his father. Here, reader, you are gong to become pretty disgusted with Billy’s father. But, hang on... Other than his dad’s address, all he knows is that he’s got a new wife and family—and Billy’s ready for answers. In Montana, Billy meets Lil, his stepmother, and Summer, his stepsister, both members of the Crow Nation. But not his dad. Lil and Summer profess to know as little as his mother about his dad’s actual job. He always has claimed he works on secret missions for the government.

    Lil and a Summer don’t mind having Billy live with them and wait for his father, Dennis, to return (they even give him a little primer on U.S.–Native Nations relations). When his father’s truck is found abandoned with slashed tires, the tension heats. The only communication Billy gets from dad is via drone. Interesting and so 21st century. Now, Billy’s had enough as he tracks his dad down which turns out to be just the beginning of his adventure.

    I’ve read all of Hiassen’s wildlife mystery-thriller-adventures and this one did not fail me. Even though though I find all snakes terrifying, I would never hurt one. My cat bring little snakes in the house so I’m used to trapping them and releasing them into our woods. I loved the part about the rattlesnake in the locker with its mount taped with steri strips. What a way to fend off a bully! We learn that this does not harm the snake.

    Narrator Billy, maintains a strong sense of justice and a deep affection for snakes.

    I love your writing Carl Haissen and book talking them to middle school students.

    Ages 8-12.

    This book pairs well with Rob White’s classic book entitled Deathwatch.

    Thank you Albert A. Knopf books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read this excellent ARC.

  • Linda

    Carl Hiaasen does it again. This is a delightful book that unites a couple of Florida kids with their AWOL father who has a new family in Montana. Dad goes out on secret missions and the Florida boy and Montana native American girl team up to find out what's actually going on. Both of the youngsters are incredibly intelligent and wise for their ages - each with knowledge that helps all out of dangerous situations. Typical Hiaasen, the situations have an environnmental/ecological origin.

  • Billie

    It was a lot of fun and with a good message, but felt like it lacked a lot of Hiaasen's usual humor.

  • Carolyn Stover

    4.5. Funny. Sweet. All about families. Great characters. Lots of plot twists. Hard to put down ❤

  • Sarai Davila

    "Squirm" lacks some of the silliness and humor of Hiaasen's other books, but I think there's a certain level of solemnity that fits with the story. This latest story takes place both in Florida and Montana, and it has a unique tone--very different from Hiaasen's other Juvenile Fictions. The sunniness of Florida, and it's sometimes laughable reputation, both lend well to Hiaasen's usual almost slapstick humor and equally biting wit. But the mountains of Montana are a darker, less funny place to b

    "Squirm" lacks some of the silliness and humor of Hiaasen's other books, but I think there's a certain level of solemnity that fits with the story. This latest story takes place both in Florida and Montana, and it has a unique tone--very different from Hiaasen's other Juvenile Fictions. The sunniness of Florida, and it's sometimes laughable reputation, both lend well to Hiaasen's usual almost slapstick humor and equally biting wit. But the mountains of Montana are a darker, less funny place to be. The animals are just as deadly in some cases, but there's a huge difference between a mama bear and her two cubs, and the grumpy-faced alligators and snakes in the other books. The atmosphere of the juxtaposing places fits well with this still witty but less funny book.

    The familial situation in this book also lends itself to the more serious mood that it carries. Billy has one absentee parent and one who struggles with her obsession with certain wildlife. That's a lot less funny or playful than the father in "Chomp" who is nearly a caricature of a reckless wilderness-obsessed father.

    Hiaasen's message in this book is also a little bit darker. His other books definitely deal with environmentalism, and being nice to the planet and animals, but this book takes a slightly bleaker look, with a poacher, who is anything but funny or redeemable. The naturalist approach in this book doesn't feel quite so low stakes when it involves a bear, and multiple people's lives. There's a particular quote that I cannot remember now, but it paints a portrait of a world that struggles with bigotry, sleazy politicians, and other hardships and sadness. Hiaasen clearly cares about the planet and the world, and he obviously wants to make a difference. I think the case here is that in the past, his books have pointed out our problems with a light hand, whereas in this one, you can feel the tone of wondering if there's any hope, or if we're past help.

    The biggest problems I noticed with this book were that at times I had a hard time with how often things would pivot even when it seemed meaningless. Characters flying around between Montana and Florida to visit each other, with each trip feeling less important than the last. I wanted a little more consistency of plot and character with less travel time.

    Overall, this book was very different from Hiaasen's other works, but I enjoyed it for what it offered instead--a darker but still hopeful take on the world and our issues.

  • Marianne Robin-Tani

    Even though this book is completely unrealistic in a lot of ways (the snakes, the way Billy punishes people and saves people, a 14-year-old driving on the highway), it mostly works within this world, so those things didn't bother me too much. My problem with this book (SPOILER ALERT!) is how Billy has a knife in his pocket at a crucial point in the story, soon after he'd just gotten off an airplane. There is no way he could have taken that knife through security. (Unless I missed something and h

    Even though this book is completely unrealistic in a lot of ways (the snakes, the way Billy punishes people and saves people, a 14-year-old driving on the highway), it mostly works within this world, so those things didn't bother me too much. My problem with this book (SPOILER ALERT!) is how Billy has a knife in his pocket at a crucial point in the story, soon after he'd just gotten off an airplane. There is no way he could have taken that knife through security. (Unless I missed something and he had left the knife at Summer's house.) But, that lapse really took me out of the story and bumped my rating down a couple of stars.

  • Barbara

    Billy Dickens is not your typical middle grader. Not only does he have a thing for snakes and is fascinated by them, but he also has a penchant for the underdogs in his school and the world around him. The child of two avid nature lovers, the boy has already lived in six different Florida towns, moves spurred by his mother's fondness for bald eagles. When Billy figures out where his long-gone father is, he travels to Montana to meet him. But in the beautiful state, he finds more questions than a

    Billy Dickens is not your typical middle grader. Not only does he have a thing for snakes and is fascinated by them, but he also has a penchant for the underdogs in his school and the world around him. The child of two avid nature lovers, the boy has already lived in six different Florida towns, moves spurred by his mother's fondness for bald eagles. When Billy figures out where his long-gone father is, he travels to Montana to meet him. But in the beautiful state, he finds more questions than answers and falls in love with the place. When the truth about what his dad does for a living finally comes out, Billy and his stepsister, Summer, head off on a wild ride through parts of Florida as they try to protect an endangered species there and a different one back in Montana. I have no idea if there are actually wealthy bounty hunters out there like the villainous Lincoln Chumley Baxter IV, out there, eager to kill species that are steadily dwindling just for the thrill of it, but the author has captured the essence of what someone like this might be like and how determined he was to bag his game, no matter what he had to do to succeed. As I finished the book, I couldn't help wishing there were more folks out there like Billy. The wildlife and environment need more eco-warriors like him. Although the ending of the book might be a little over the top, I have to say that I was pleased that nature got the last word when it came to justice. All the characters in this novel are interesting and complex, and it was encouraging to see one man use his wealth for good. Middle grade readers will enjoy this one just as much as the author's earlier books.

  • Ms. Yingling

    Copy provided by publisher

    Wonderful, totally up to this author's standards, but I gave to a student before I wrote the review and forget pertinent details!

  • Tim

    Some of Mr. Hiaasen's stories are good and some are not. This is aimed for a younger audience. 1 of 10 stars

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