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Squirm

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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. * 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. * Billy's older sister is dating a jerk. It's a mystery. * Billy's dad left when he was four, and Billy knows almost nothing about him. * Billy has just found his dad's address--in Montana. This summer, Billy will fly across the country, hike a mountain, float a river, dodge a grizzly bear, shoot down a spy drone, save a neighbor's cat, save an endangered panther, and then try to save his own father.


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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. * 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. * Billy's older sister is dating a jerk. It's a mystery. * Billy's dad left when he was four, and Billy knows almost nothing about him. * Billy has just found his dad's address--in Montana. This summer, Billy will fly across the country, hike a mountain, float a river, dodge a grizzly bear, shoot down a spy drone, save a neighbor's cat, save an endangered panther, and then try to save his own father.

30 review for Squirm

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tim

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

  2. 5 out of 5

    Skip

    I really enjoy Hiassen's books, preferring his adult fare. This book is written for tweens, not even young adults. The humor is pretty dumbed down (e.g., MeTube and other misnamed social media platforms.) The basic story made little sense. Father abandons family, but sends a monthly check. Mother is kind of cuckoo and moves around Florida to be near bald eagle nests. The son decides to track down father despite his simmering anger, and finds him with a new Crow Indian family in Montana, where he I really enjoy Hiassen's books, preferring his adult fare. This book is written for tweens, not even young adults. The humor is pretty dumbed down (e.g., MeTube and other misnamed social media platforms.) The basic story made little sense. Father abandons family, but sends a monthly check. Mother is kind of cuckoo and moves around Florida to be near bald eagle nests. The son decides to track down father despite his simmering anger, and finds him with a new Crow Indian family in Montana, where he has a mysterious job involving nature and drones. Somehow he gets over his anger. Highlights of the book were the son's unwavering war on bullies, and affinity for nature (very Hiassenesque.) Just didn't work for me.

  3. 5 out of 5

    The Captain

    Ahoy there me mateys! A while back I was introduced to this author because of a cat on the cover of scat. I enjoyed that book so much that I decided to listen to all of Hiaasen’s other juvenile books. This be a review of the other four books: hoot, flush, chomp, squirm. These books have some common themes. All of them involve a young boy who lives in Florida, gets bullied, loves animals, has a quirky sense of humor, makes new friends, and saves the day. Weird names also seem to be a trend. While Ahoy there me mateys! A while back I was introduced to this author because of a cat on the cover of scat. I enjoyed that book so much that I decided to listen to all of Hiaasen’s other juvenile books. This be a review of the other four books: hoot, flush, chomp, squirm. These books have some common themes. All of them involve a young boy who lives in Florida, gets bullied, loves animals, has a quirky sense of humor, makes new friends, and saves the day. Weird names also seem to be a trend. While the bad guys are very two-dimensional, the good guys are quirky and fun. Also there tends to be loving, if odd, parents involved which is nice. hoot: This was apparently a best novel nominee for the Newbery medal. I also think at some point I watched some of the movie with me nephews. In this one, Roy Eberhardt moves to Florida. He is chosen to be the school bully, Dana Matherson’s, new punching bag. It is while being smashed into the school bus window that Roy first sees “the running boy” who is running away from the school bus and appears to be wearing no shoes. Roy is pulled into a mystery to find out who the boy is and what he is doing. The running boy is called “Mullet Fingers” and is on a quest to fight a pancake house and save the owls. I loved Roy and the girl Beatrice. I loved the pancake house actress. flush: In this one a boy named Noah is determined to help his dad stop the local casino boat from dumping sewage into the water. His sister Abbey joins in. Me favourite character was Shelley. There are side plots about the kids trying to save their parents marriage. Also this is one of those books where the dad actually acknowledges faults and takes steps to improve. I particularly loved the family dynamics in this one. chomp: This was me other favourite. This book follows a boy named Wahoo (worst name ever) as he works with his dad as an animal wrangler for a wildlife reality tv show. His friend Tuna (second worse name ever) joins him on location. This was a tongue-in-cheek look at reality television and made me laugh. The reality star, Derek Badger, is something else. It is over-the-top and ridiculous and I loved it. squirm: This book was slightly different in that part of it takes place in Montana and there is an absent dad who certainly doesn’t win any awards for best parent. In this book, Billy is determined to meet his father and gets answers to his questions. Like in hoot, snakes are a major theme. For me this plot was the strangest. There is supposed to be a mystery in terms of what the exactly Billy’s father does for a living. The answer was not that interesting to me and the dad seemed to be an idiot in general. I did like Billy though. I was very glad to read these books. They are rather lighthearted and silly but I can see the appeal for younger readers. They certainly appealed to this older one too. Me personal preference of reading order be scat, chomp, flush, hoot, then squirm. Scat and chomp in particular had some laugh out loud moments. I highly recommend. Arrr! Check out me other reviews at https://thecaptainsquartersblog.wordp...

  4. 5 out of 5

    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.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Barb Martin

    Carl Hiaasen's juvenile books are never as whacked-out as those he writes for adults. Still, he manages to get a pro-environment and anti-development message into all of his books, as well as his love of Florida. This time, Billy Dickens is a middle school kid who likes snakes, sticks up for downtrodden classmates and has absolutely no relationship to his long-estranged father. That all changes when he discovers his father's address and embarks on an adventure that involves bears, snakes and dro Carl Hiaasen's juvenile books are never as whacked-out as those he writes for adults. Still, he manages to get a pro-environment and anti-development message into all of his books, as well as his love of Florida. This time, Billy Dickens is a middle school kid who likes snakes, sticks up for downtrodden classmates and has absolutely no relationship to his long-estranged father. That all changes when he discovers his father's address and embarks on an adventure that involves bears, snakes and drones. This is a quick little read with enjoyable characters and a mildly written tension-filled plot filled with snakes . . . the kind that squirm on the ground and those that squirm on two legs.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Maegan (The Slinky Serpent)

    Y'all I'm doing better in 2019. This review is only weeks late as opposed to months, or a year *cough* *cough*. ***SPOILER ALERT**** This is not a review. It is a rant. There will be spoilers. ******************* I Ok. So let me just say this book made me VERY uncomfortable to put it lightly. I wanted to DNF so many times, but I was 62% in and I couldn’t let all my strife be for naught. So first I read all of the previous books in the series. It’s been a while give or take eight or so years. But if I Y'all I'm doing better in 2019. This review is only weeks late as opposed to months, or a year *cough* *cough*. ***SPOILER ALERT**** This is not a review. It is a rant. There will be spoilers. ******************* I Ok. So let me just say this book made me VERY uncomfortable to put it lightly. I wanted to DNF so many times, but I was 62% in and I couldn’t let all my strife be for naught. So first I read all of the previous books in the series. It’s been a while give or take eight or so years. But if I remember correctly the books were all kinda cooky, happened in Florida, everglades-esque, the main character was also always kinda weird, obsessed with one animal or another, but it was what it was. I remember seeing the book had come out and being interested. Just so happens I’m scrolling through the kindle shop (they got me with that $.99 three month kindle unlimited thing) and I see that the book is on sale for $1.99 (there was a reason) so of course I buy it. I mean, come on? I don’t know if I’m just getting on in my years (twenty will do that to you) or if this book was just a wreck, but I’m banking on the latter. So basic gist main character’s name is Billy, he obsessed with snakes, a loner. Strange. But expected. He lives with his mom and his sister, dad is a dead-beat who left when Billy was four (three?) but he sends a check every month. Okay not so bad. (Will say that I was not believing this skinny little twelve year old picked up a whole grown woman to stop her from getting trampled by a bison. Like boy let her do her, take her selfies and get trampled.) Now, Billy’s mother is a bit of a weirdo also. She’s obsessed with eagles. As in they literally move every few years so that they can be near an eagle nest. Weird. But not unexpected. Also the mom is also quite taken with animals (especially birds) who mate for life? May or may not have to do with her failed love life, but I dunno. Billy’s sister has really no character. She’s just a catalyst through which the author mocks social media through the clueless Billy. She’s just there to take selfies and use facegram or instatube or whatever (Billy mixing up the names of social media sites was not remotely funny). Now here’s where it gets messy. The dad. So dead-beat walks out on his wife and his two kids and moves to Minnesota (correct me if I’m wrong didn’t really try to commit any of this to memory) to save animals with a drone…Yes you read that right. Like he legit scares off animals with a drone so they won’t get offed by poachers. (Like I said I might just be too old. Maybe it was supposed to be funny…or…something?) And this is where it gets worse. The Native American aspect. The book series on a whole kind of speaks towards animal conservation, endangered species and all that good stuff. In *THIS* particular book, however, the author puts this same idea towards Native Americans. And it just feels…off. Like he’s putting them in the same place as the bison that almost got killed off. I dunno it was just weird all around. So, any who, drone boy, who, as I said left his whole family in Florida and moved to Minnesota is now “married” (they don’t actually get “officially” married they just go on a camping trip along with the new step daughter and call it a day, which also left a bad taste in my mouth like okaaay?) to a Native American woman whose name is something like Thunder Sky Hawk (something to that effect) who also has a daughter around the same age as Billy. Somehow this guy inherited some money so he’s well off, nobody knows (or he thinks they don’t) so he lies and says he has a job with the government so they won’t know that he really is still an idiot. This guy has no good characteristics. The new “wife”, Lil, okay so now I think I have her name “Little Thunder Sky” (don’t take my word for it), which Billy’s mom remarks is simply beautiful. (The dynamic was all kinds of weird here cause the author was giving all kinds of vibes that Billy’s mom still wants to be married to his idiot dad. Y’all it’s a mess.) The stepdaughter, Summer. So this girl is sooo annoying. She’s so happy that their white savior rescued them from the “rez”, but at the same time feels so separated from her people (the Crow as she lets us know MULTIPLE times throughout the book). She’s also complete with a “full-indian” abusive dad who is now rotting in jail. At one point they are scaring off an animal so the poacher they’re following around won’t bag it. Drone Boy is blowing a whistle, snake boy is blowing a car horn and full-blood Crow Summer is out here banging on a tree like a mad-woman. It just made me so uncomfortable. Also she thought it made sense to tell a man with no morals, a stinking-rich poacher with A GUN, that he better not do anything to her cause she is FULL CROW. HUH??? I was legit waiting to see that the author was a LEAST 1/16 Crow cause he just went and exploited these people so much. Belittled them. Equated them to animals. Tried to act politically correct by saying that the white man really freaking messed their lives up, but then turns around and has them looking up to this lying, dumb behind “man”, if he can be called that. He’s not stable. Like whyyy??? Also was VERY surprised by the amount of inappropriate words in this book. I mean a few words were starred out, but I can’t believe this is being sold as MG. This whole book is just wreck. I regret everything.

  7. 4 out of 5

    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.

  8. 5 out of 5

    H R Koelling

    Fun, positive book. I love Hiaasen's YA novels. His books can empower and inspire kids to feel confident in the adult world, and also show that parents aren't always perfect.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Billie

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

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    Copy provided by publisher

  11. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Stover

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

  12. 4 out of 5

    Caden Davidson

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. In this book you will find adventure, tension, and action following Billy through his great story. I would say this book should be for 4th grade and up because it has some bad words and it might be scary for small children. This book belongs to a series of 5 but you do not have to read in chronological order they are all different stories. Young Billy Dicksons lives in Florida his parents are divorced and his dad moved away. One night he found an envelope with the address to where his dad lives so In this book you will find adventure, tension, and action following Billy through his great story. I would say this book should be for 4th grade and up because it has some bad words and it might be scary for small children. This book belongs to a series of 5 but you do not have to read in chronological order they are all different stories. Young Billy Dicksons lives in Florida his parents are divorced and his dad moved away. One night he found an envelope with the address to where his dad lives so he decided to fly there. In Montana, where his dad lived, he found his family home but not him. One of the days he was there he went to the woods where a drone found him he knew at once it was him.so once he got back to Florida he saw the drone again and found his dad. His dad told Billy what he does and Billy goes on the next trip with him. They follow a poacher and stop him. But when everything seems over the poacher comes back and tries to use Billy’s dad as bait. Billy saves him and everything’s all good. What makes Billy interesting is that he has an obsession of catching snakes. Some conflicts Billy faces are his dad getting trapped and also other kids. I think some of the theme is bullying because Billy saves a kid from bullying and saves himself and it pays off. The setting for this book is in Florida and Montana. It is also very modern too. It is also very easy to picture it. I really think this is a great book and you souls definitely read it along with the rest of the books in the series.

  13. 5 out of 5

    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.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mobeme53 Branson

    I always enjoy Hiaasen's writing. No, it's not based in reality. In this case it plays into the fantasy of many children who have been abandoned by a parent; when I find my Dad he'll be super cool and want to be with me. Also, the protagonist is fearless and full of confidence but kind hearted. A sweet, fun read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Wendy Bunnell

    This is a fun middle grades book, classic Hiaasen. Heavy on nature and kids who respect it versus people who do not. Setting is key, and in this one we get Hiaasen's usually setting of Florida, but also two trips to Montana, so that was fun to see. The part I didn't care for as much was the just plain poor parenting by Billy's parents, both the dad who abandoned him, never returning of his own volition, and also his "flakey" mother who uproots her kids every time a bird decided to fly to coop. Th This is a fun middle grades book, classic Hiaasen. Heavy on nature and kids who respect it versus people who do not. Setting is key, and in this one we get Hiaasen's usually setting of Florida, but also two trips to Montana, so that was fun to see. The part I didn't care for as much was the just plain poor parenting by Billy's parents, both the dad who abandoned him, never returning of his own volition, and also his "flakey" mother who uproots her kids every time a bird decided to fly to coop. This is somehow celebrated and not seen as the ridiculous, selfish act that it is. Of course as a mom of a Tween, I'm not the intended audience for this book, but read them out loud with my reluctant reader son, who adored it. Loved the setting and all the youngster. The adults, even the "good" ones, were pretty "meh", as my younger son would say.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Annie Valdes

    just LOVE the "children's" books. they're all full of possibilities for saving the environment that are capable of being done by younger members of the human race. loopy humor adds. odd "families" that work..

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chloe Heckman

    I thought this book was good. I liked how the characters evolved into loving their very different families. All the characters were fun to read about and I liked following their stories. I would recommend this book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Ozirny

    All the makings of a solid Hiaasen book. I listened to this on audio and there was no afterword or author's note on Hiaasen' research or connection with the Crow Nation (maybe this was in print and wasn't included on audio). I don't have enough information to pass judgment at this point, but I think it's worth pausing and asking questions whenever a white man is writing from the perspective of two indigenous female characters (with one character who speaks explicitly about what it feels like to b All the makings of a solid Hiaasen book. I listened to this on audio and there was no afterword or author's note on Hiaasen' research or connection with the Crow Nation (maybe this was in print and wasn't included on audio). I don't have enough information to pass judgment at this point, but I think it's worth pausing and asking questions whenever a white man is writing from the perspective of two indigenous female characters (with one character who speaks explicitly about what it feels like to be Native American).

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dina

    I like Carl Hiaasen, and I always get a laugh out of his middle school, pro-environment, Florida happy books. This one fell short though. It was disjointed and all over the place and it just didn't make me snort with amusement like his earlier books did (shout out to 'Chomp'). The plot also made very little sense...The adults in this book were just not normal people, even though, yes, they were Floridians and I had very low expectations.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cori

    I love how all of his books are about rescuing animals. It's amazing.

  21. 5 out of 5

    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.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Fun -- although I do like his "adult" books better. If you're a Carl Hiaasen fan and want your children to know why you appreciate his humor, this would be a good introduction for them to his work. Typical great Hiaasen story combining environmental concerns with besting the bad guys.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    Fast paced and reasonably fun, I'm just a little sad that it doesn't seem to have the same amount of sense of humor as his usual books. I'm pleased that it seems much more solid than his recent adult novels. It's been a rough couple of years, I wonder if that's bleeding through.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Tanner

    Another super fun, environmentally based mystery by Carl Hiassen. This one has an extra added bonus of being set both in South Florida AND Montana.

  25. 4 out of 5

    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.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    “I did the only thing a person like me could possibly do, wired the way I am. No way could I stand there watching a small kid get pounded by a big kid. Not an option. That isn’t bravery, it’s just reflex.” Billy Audubon Dickens (B.A.D.) leads an unusual life. Some of it has to do with his mother. She’s got this weird rule. “We’ve got to live near a bald eagle nest, and by “near” my mother means fifteen minutes, max.” So, they are constantly moving from place to place, which means Billy doesn’t bo “I did the only thing a person like me could possibly do, wired the way I am. No way could I stand there watching a small kid get pounded by a big kid. Not an option. That isn’t bravery, it’s just reflex.” Billy Audubon Dickens (B.A.D.) leads an unusual life. Some of it has to do with his mother. She’s got this weird rule. “We’ve got to live near a bald eagle nest, and by “near” my mother means fifteen minutes, max.” So, they are constantly moving from place to place, which means Billy doesn’t bother making friends. It just isn’t worth it. Another reason his life is so interesting is that “Sometimes an idea pops into my head, the opposite of common sense, but I just can’t let it be.” Billy acts on impulse a lot. For example, how does he stop kids from breaking into his locker? He puts a rattlesnake in it. Effective, but a little bit crazy. But at least he almost always has a good reason for his crazy ideas. And now his summer is about to get really interesting because he makes one of those impulse decisions, hops on a plane and flies to Montana to find Dennis Dickens, his father. You see, he found the envelope that the monthly check arrived in and got the address. Not that his father has ever tried to make contact before, but oh well … should be interesting. He starts by meeting his dad’s stepdaughter, Summer Chasing-Hawks and her mother, Little Thunder-Sky (Lil). Billy had no idea that his father had remarried. They are both very nice and even let Billy stay with them since Billy’s dad is supposedly off on some secret mission. Just who does he work for, anyway? FBI? CIA? NSA? Things get even weirder when they find Dennis’ truck abandoned and his tires slashed. Shortly after that, a drone arrives in front of Billy and drops a note: Billy, please get away from here as fast as you can. I’ll explain everything later, when I see you. Love, Dad Billy is a bit skeptical about his Dad’s story. “Something’s weird about his story is all I’m saying. He’s working undercover in the middle of a forest? What —- disguised as a pine cone?” And so, of course, he pursues his father into the woods. Before he knows it, Billy is lost. “Who drives off and leaves his son alone in the middle of grizzly country.” So begins this humorous, adventure tale that involves some guy named Lincoln Chumley Baxter IV (can you believe that name?) Billy’s sarcastic comments cause laugh-out-loud moments and the mystery and adventure that follows will keep readers turning the pages. Recommended for Grades 5 and up.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    Well, he has done it again. Carl Hiaasen has written a book that kids will find hard to put down once they start. Billy Dickens like snakes (ewwwwweeeeeee). He is a friend to most animals and with a mother like his you can understand why. His mom is crazy about Bald Eagles. She follows them around Florida, and spends the weekends on family eagle watching outings. Everytime the eagles abandon the nest where she lives, she has to find a new nest to live near. This means Billy has spent plenty of t Well, he has done it again. Carl Hiaasen has written a book that kids will find hard to put down once they start. Billy Dickens like snakes (ewwwwweeeeeee). He is a friend to most animals and with a mother like his you can understand why. His mom is crazy about Bald Eagles. She follows them around Florida, and spends the weekends on family eagle watching outings. Everytime the eagles abandon the nest where she lives, she has to find a new nest to live near. This means Billy has spent plenty of time moving. This time he just wants to stay put. His current place has great snakes. But, Billy is curious about his father. When dad walked out he never looked back. He supports his kids financially, but never a letter, never a call. Just the monthly check. But Billy wants to see his dad. Upon finding his father’s address on the envelope, he plans a trip to Montana. Come heck or high water he is going to meet the man that he only knows by name. And since this is a Hiaasen novel you know there will be some type of trouble with animals and/or an environmental concern, and Billy has to help. This adventure is going to see Billy and his step sister, Summer Chasing-Hawks, watching out for grizzly bears in Montana, and and panthers in Florida. You have to throw in some high tech drone action, plus all the snark you can handle. I did love this story, but to me it does not live up to the level Hiaasen reached with Chomp. I think part of it was the back and forth between Montana and Florida. Plus the meet ups with dad. You really start to hate the man as you read this book, and I think that the forgiveness part comes too soon, and too quick. I really want to hand my galley to my nephew but fear this book will come too close to his current situation with his father. And I won't lie, that maybe what colors some of my opinion. Overall, this book is a great adventure. Readers young and old will fall in love with Billy and Summer, and maybe even forgive the adults for their faults. And for those people like me who are not fond of snakes, there is a little snake action, but nothing to fear. I would put this book at a 4th+ reading level, but think it could be a fun read aloud for younger kids.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shana

    Squirm is the story of Billy, aboy who has grown up since he was 4 without his father. His mother loves bald eagles and moves every time they leave their nest. So unsurprisingly, Billy doesn’t get involved or close to many people. He has always been curious about his father and where he lives (since his mother shredded all the return addresses off the envelopes). When he pieces one together, he decides to visit his dad and figure out his mysterious life. Billy (like his parents) has an interest Squirm is the story of Billy, aboy who has grown up since he was 4 without his father. His mother loves bald eagles and moves every time they leave their nest. So unsurprisingly, Billy doesn’t get involved or close to many people. He has always been curious about his father and where he lives (since his mother shredded all the return addresses off the envelopes). When he pieces one together, he decides to visit his dad and figure out his mysterious life. Billy (like his parents) has an interest in animals, particularly snakes, which he often bags and collects (hence the title and cover of the book). From reading about his other books, it seems Carl Hiaasen is great at character development in realistic fiction. Billy’s strengths (loyal, standing up to bullies, love for his family) and weaknesses (lying, not making friends or relationships) are both portrayed. There are several situation in which Billy deals with bullies. He is the kind of friend any child who is often bullied would want on his side. His clever responses and ways of dealing with bullies are creative and humorous. Billy can always make a bully humbled without laying a finger on him, often using fear as a deterrent. Squirmalso deals with many life changes and challenges. I think young readers who have often felt alone would feel camaraderie with Billy, and probably most boys would want to be his friend. Squirmleaves almost every chapter with suspense, and makes for an enjoyable read that’s hard to put down. I didn’t love some of the language in this book. I felt like it was written for a relatively young age range and had frequent (I would say) cussing. I read this book with my son and I skipped a lot of words or changed them. In one instance, my son said, “mom, I already read it. Why did he use that word?” I feel like this book had by far the worst language of any book I have read for this age. Overall, Squirmis an engaging read, about wilderness in Florida and Montana (with lots of information about both regions) and growing up in single parent households. I would recommend it to 5th-8thgrade students.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mal Warwick

    Squirm is the latest of Carl Hiaasen's series of young adult novels with one-word titles. Hoot, Scat, Flush, Chomp, Skink, and now Squirm. Every one of these books I've read, and every one of his adult novels I've managed to read, is infused with an intense love for nature. In Squirm, Hiaasen takes that love to a new level. The book is virtually a naturalist's tour of Montana. Hiaasen's protagonist this time around is 13-year-old Billy Audubon Dickens. Billy loves snakes. His mother moves him and Squirm is the latest of Carl Hiaasen's series of young adult novels with one-word titles. Hoot, Scat, Flush, Chomp, Skink, and now Squirm. Every one of these books I've read, and every one of his adult novels I've managed to read, is infused with an intense love for nature. In Squirm, Hiaasen takes that love to a new level. The book is virtually a naturalist's tour of Montana. Hiaasen's protagonist this time around is 13-year-old Billy Audubon Dickens. Billy loves snakes. His mother moves him and his sister around because she "has a weird rule: We've got to live near a bald eagle nest, and by 'near,' my mother means fifteen minutes max. She's totally obsessed with these birds." Billy's father, Dennis Dickens, is nowhere to be found. He left the family many years ago to take up a mysterious job about which he will say absolutely nothing. But Billy is a resourceful kid. He's determined to find a way to find the old man and learn his secret. Billy's odyssey takes him from Fort Pierce, Florida to Livingston, Montana, a tiny town 30 miles from Bozeman. There he finds his dad's new family but no dad. Dennis is out on a mission, allegedly for a government agency. Whatever his job is, it involves drones. Dennis is living with an Apsalooka (Crow) Indian woman named Little Thunder-Sky and her 14-year-old daughter, Summer Chasing-Hawks. The mother, known as Lil, is a river guide for visiting fishermen. And you just know that, whatever Dennis is doing, it involves nature as well. So you quickly figure out where this is going even if the mystery continues. Squirm is a worthy addition to Hiaasen's growing body of young adult novels. It's not nearly as funny as are most of his novels for grown-ups, but it's infused with the same reverence for the natural world and a gentle way with the characters.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mark Buxton

    My name is Billy, and I haven't seen my dad since I was three. He lives in Montana, and I've been told he does secret missions for the government. I flew to his home and met his new wife and daughter, and we're all upset that he's never contacted me. He had his drone watch me, but that was hardly a reunion between son and father. I finally returned home to Florida, and the next thing I knew, a drone was buzzing around my house. I decided to do something drastic, and it worked. I finally learned My name is Billy, and I haven't seen my dad since I was three. He lives in Montana, and I've been told he does secret missions for the government. I flew to his home and met his new wife and daughter, and we're all upset that he's never contacted me. He had his drone watch me, but that was hardly a reunion between son and father. I finally returned home to Florida, and the next thing I knew, a drone was buzzing around my house. I decided to do something drastic, and it worked. I finally learned the truth about my father, but it's led to an unexpected adventure. I now find myself in the Florida wilderness with a shotgun and a hunting rifle on opposite sides of the law. I've read other books by this author, Hoot and Chomp, and this one fit the same mold. You can expect to learn about endangered species along with other information about our country and nature. Billy was an expert on snakes, and his mother was obsessed with bald eagles. The beginning of many chapters started slowly due to flashbacks and facts about wildlife, but it was okay. Billy's half-sister and stepmother were members of the Crow Indians, and I learned a bit about their culture. The father's job was vague until the mid-point of the book, so it became a mystery for readers to solve. Solving the mystery wasn't a real problem though, since the father eventually revealed the secret to his son. The dynamic between his two families was very unexpected. Billy's character was quite virtuous and brave. He had a reputation at school and used it for his own protection and to help a nerdy classmate. His parents raised him to respect nature, and he became an advocate for other creatures. He once trashed a motorcycle after the rider intentionally ran over a snake. Some of his decisions seemed ill-advised for a thirteen-year-old boy. Overall, I really liked this book, and nature lovers will enjoy it too.

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