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On Sale: September 13, 2005
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
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PRAISE & AWARDS PRAISE & AWARDS
READER'S GUIDE READER'S GUIDE
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Bestselling novelist Carl Hiaasen is back with another hysterical mystery adventure for young readers, set in the Florida Keys.
 
Noah's dad has a little problem with anger control. He tried to stop the Coral Queen casino boat's illegal dumping . . . by sinking the boat. But his bold protest fizzles: within days the casino is back in business, and Noah's dad is behind bars and out of action.
 
Now Noah is determined to succeed where his father failed. But even though pumping raw sewage into the waters of the Florida Keys is both gross and against the law, turns out it's near impossible to catch the flusher—especially when he's already bamboozled the prosecutors, the local press, and even the Coast Guard.
 
But Noah's got a few allies. There's his little sister, Abbey, an unreformed childhood biter; Lice Peeking, a half-soused ex-mate of the Coral Queen who is willing to testify . . . for a price; and Shelly, a bighearted bartender with even bigger biceps.
 
Okay, so the odds aren't good. But Noah has an ace up his sleeve—a plan so crazy it just might stop the polluting, save the beaches, and prove to the world that it's the owner of the Coral Queen, and not his dad, who is full of . . . crud.

Excerpt

The Coral Queen had gone down stern first in twelve feet of water. Her hull had settled on the marly bottom at a slight angle with the bow aiming upward.

She was a big one, too. Even at high tide, the top two decks were above the water line. It was like a big ugly apartment building had fallen out of the sky and landed in the basin.

Abbey hopped off my handlebars and walked to the water’s edge. She planted her hands on her hips and stared at the crime scene.

“Whoa,” she said. “He really did it this time.”

“It’s bad,” I agreed.

The Coral Queen was one of those gambling boats where passengers line up to play blackjack and electronic poker, and to stuff their faces at the all-you-can-eat buffet. It didn’t sound like a ton of fun to me, but the Coral Queen was packed to the rafters every night.

There was one major difference between Dusty Muleman’s operation and the gambling cruises up in Miami: The Coral Queen didn’t actually go anywhere. That’s one reason it was so popular

By Florida law, gambling boats are supposed to travel at least three miles offshore–beyond the state boundaries–before anyone is allowed to start betting. Rough weather is real bad for business, because lots of customers get seasick. As soon as they start throwing up, they quit spending money.

According to my father, Dusty Muleman’s dream was to open a gambling boat that never left the calm and safety of its harbor. That way, the passengers would never get too queasy to party.

Only Indian tribes are allowed to run casino operations in Florida, so Dusty somehow persuaded a couple of rich Miccosukees from Miami to buy the marina and make it part of their reservation. Dad said the government raised a stink but later backed off, because the Indians had better lawyers.

Anyway, Dusty got his gambling boat–and he got rich.

My dad had waited until three in the morning, when the last of the crew was gone, to sneak aboard. He’d untied the ropes and started one of the engines and idled out to the mouth of the basin, where he’d opened the seacocks and cut the hoses and disconnected the bilge pumps and then dived overboard.

The Coral Queen had gone down crosswise in the channel, which meant that no other vessels could get in or out of the basin. In other words, Dusty Muleman wasn’t the only captain in town who wanted to strangle my dad on Father’s Day.

I locked my bike to a buttonwood tree and walked down to the charter docks, Abbey trailing behind. Two small skiffs and a Coast Guard inflatable were nosing around the Coral Queen. We could hear the men in the skiffs talking about what had to be done to float the boat. It was a major project.

“He’s lost his marbles,” Abbey muttered.

“Who–Dad? No way,” I said.

“Then why did he do it?”

“Because Dusty Muleman has been dumping his holding tank into the water,” I said.

Abbey grimaced. “Yuck. From the toilets?”

“Yep. In the middle of the night, when there’s nobody around.”

“That is so gross.”

“And totally illegal,” I said. “He only does it to save money.”

According to my father, Dusty Muleman was such a pathetic cheapskate that he wouldn’t pay to have the Coral Queen’s sewage hauled away. Instead his crew had standing orders to flush the waste into the basin, which was already murky. The tide later carried most of the filth out to open water.

“But why didn’t Dad just call the Coast Guard?” my sister asked. “Wouldn’t that have been the grown-up thing to do?”

“He told me he tried. He said he called everybody he could think of, but they could never catch Dusty in the act,” I said. “Dad thinks somebody’s tipping him off.”

“Oh, please,” Abbey groaned.

Now she was starting to annoy me.

“When wind and the current are right, the poop from the gambling boat floats out of the basin and down the shoreline,” I said, “straight to Thunder Beach.”

Abbey made a pukey face. “Ugh. So that’s why they close the park sometimes.”

“You know how many kids go swimming there? What Dusty’s doing can make you real sick at both ends. Hospital-sick, Dad says. So it’s not only disgusting, it’s dangerous.”

“Yeah, but–”

“I didn’t say it was right, Abbey, what Dad did. I’m only telling you why.”

My father hadn’t even tried to get away. After swimming back to the dock, he’d sat down in a folding chair, opened a can of root beer and watched the Coral Queen go down. He was still there at dawn, sleeping, when the police arrived.

“So, what now?” Abbey asked.

A dark bluish slick surrounded the boat, and the men in the Coast Guard inflatable were laying out yellow floating bumpers, to keep the oil and grease from spreading. By sinking the Coral Queen, my father himself had managed to make quite a mess.

I said, “Dad asked me to help him.”

Abbey made a face. “Help him what–break out of jail?”

“Get serious.”

“Then what, Noah? Tell me.”

I knew she wasn’t going to like it. “He wants me to help him nail Dusty Muleman,” I said.

A long silence followed, so I figured Abbey was thinking up something snarky to say. But it turned out that she wasn’t.

“I didn’t give Dad an answer yet,” I said.

“I already know your answer,” said my sister.

“His heart’s in the right place, Abbey. It really is.”

“It’s not his heart I’m worried about, it’s his brain,” she said. “You’d better be careful, Noah.”

“Are you going to tell Mom?”

“I haven’t decided.” She gave me a sideways look that told me she probably wouldn’t.

Like I said, my sister’s all right.


From the Hardcover edition.
Carl Hiaasen

About Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiaasen - Flush

Photo © Tim Chapman

CARL HIAASEN has been writing about Florida since his father gave him a typewriter at age six. Now Hiaasen writes a column for the Miami Herald and is the author of many bestselling novels, including Star Island and Bad Monkey. Hoot, Hiaasen's first novel for young readers, was the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Newbery Honor. 
Praise | Awards

Praise

"Compulsively readable with a cleverly conceived resolution. . . . Fans of
spy stories, action, environmental intrigue, and, well, Hiaasen, will cheer for
this one." - The Bulletin


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Awards

WINNER 2005 National Parenting Publications Award (NAPPA)
WINNER 2005 New York Times Notable Book
NOMINEE 2005 Disney Adventures Book Award
WINNER 2006 ALA Best Books for Young Adults
WINNER 2006 ALA Notable Children's Book
WINNER 2006 Texas Lonestar Reading List
WINNER 2007 Florida Sunshine State Book Master List
NOMINEE 2007 Hawaii Nene Award
WINNER 2007 Maine Student Book Master List
WINNER 2007 Kentucky Bluegrass Master List
WINNER 2008 Louisiana Young Reader's Choice Master List
WINNER 2007 Pennyslvania Young Readers Choice Master List
WINNER 2007 Vermont Dorothy Canfield Fischer Book Award
WINNER 2006 ALA Quick Pick for Young Adult Reluctant Readers
NOMINEE Indiana Young Hoosier Award
NOMINEE Louisiana Young Reader's Choice Award
NOMINEE Oklahoma Sequoyah Children's Book Award
NOMINEE Pacific Northwest Young Readers Choice Master List
NOMINEE Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award
NOMINEE Minnesota Maud Heart Lovelace Award
Teachers Guide

Teacher's Guide



ABOUT THIS BOOK

Florida Keys residents Noah Underwood and his younger sister, Abbey, embark on a wild and humorous journey to help their father expose the shady operator of a casino boat.

Noah’s father, Paine Underwood, is in jail for sinking the Coral Queen casino boat because its operator, Dusty Muleman, is illegally dumping sewage into the ocean. This isn’t the first time that Paine has been arrested for taking local environmental issues into his own hands, nor the first time that Dusty Muleman has fooled the sheriff, the press, and even the Coast Guard. When Paine asks his son to help expose Dusty, Noah enlists the help of his younger sister, Abbey, and Shelly, an exbartender who has the goods on Dusty. With the timely help of a mysterious old pirate, these unlikely allies manage to pull off Operation Royal Flush–proving that it’s Dusty who belongs behind bars.

ABOUT THIS AUTHOR

Carl Hiaasen was only six years old when his father recognized his interest in writing and gave him a typewriter. After graduating from the University of Florida, Hiaasen became a general assignment reporter for the Miami Herald. Now he writes a regular column for the paper and bestselling satirical novels about environmental issues and crooks of all persuasions. Hoot, Hiaasen’s first novel for young readers, was awarded a Newbery Honor.

TEACHING IDEAS

Pre-reading Activity

The Florida Keys are a National Marine Sanctuary. Refer students to www.sanctuaries.nos.noaa.gov and ask them to describe the purpose of the National Marine Sanctuary. How are sanctuaries selected? What government agency oversees the sanctuaries?

Have students write a brief description about the Key West Sanctuary for a travel magazine. Include information about special programs to protect it.

Thematic Connections
Questions for Group Discussion

FAMILY–How are Noah’s parents “polar opposites”? Abbey thinks her mom can’t figure out how to fix her dad: What does Donna want to fix in Paine? Compare and contrast Noah and Abbey’s personalities. Discuss how their differences make them a good team. Ask students to explain Noah’s statement, “I wanted things to be different at home, for mom’s sake, but I sure didn’t want Dad to make himself into a whole different person.” (p. 136)

FATHER-SON RELATIONSHIP–At the beginning of the novel, Donna expresses concern that Noah may turn out like his father. Cite evidence that Noah and Paine share similar qualities. Describe their relationship. Why is Paine so certain that he can count on Noah’s help? Compare Noah and Paine’s relationship to that of Jasper, Jr., and Dusty Muleman. Discuss the greatest lesson that Noah learns from his father. What does Jasper, Jr., learn from Dusty?

BULLYING
–Ask students to discuss the characteristics of a bully. How has Dusty Muleman managed to bully both the sheriff and members of the Coast Guard? Name and describe other bullies in the novel. What is the best way to deal with a bully? Why does Noah keep his problems with Jasper, Jr., from his parents? Noah’s father says “fighting is for people who can’t win with their brains.” (p. 38) How does Noah defeat Jasper, Jr., and Dusty by using his brain?

SACRIFICE
–Paine Underwood takes on politicians, the police, and the Coast Guard to protect the environment. He is so committed to his cause that he is willing to involve his family. Discuss how causes usually require sacrifice. How does Paine almost sacrifice his family for his cause? What would the citizens of the Keys sacrifice if Dusty Muleman hadn’t been stopped? What has Grandpa Bobby sacrificed for his cause?

COURAGE–Noah and Abbey have learned courage from their father. What is courageous about Operation Royal Flush? Donna Underwood isn’t thrilled with her husband’s actions. Have students debate whether she lacks courage, or is just tired of bailing him out of jail. How does Shelly show courage when she asks Dusty for her job back as a bartender on the Coral Queen?

VALUES IN CONFLICT–Paine says, “I’m not a common criminal. I know right from wrong.” (p. 3) Ask students if they think he’s right, and if so, why is he in jail? Explain Shelly’s meaning when she tells Noah, “Please don’t grow up to be one of those men who lie for the sport of it.” (p. 31) Grandpa Bobby describes Paine as a good man, “but sometimes his brain takes a nap and lets his heart take the tiller.” (p. 209) How do Noah and Abbey use their hearts and their brains to expose Dusty?

Connecting to the Curriculum

LANGUAGE ARTS
–Ask students to discuss how Hiaasen uses character names to evoke humor in the novel. Write brief character sketches of Lice Peeking and Dusty Muleman. Discuss the symbolism of their names. Miles Umlatt is a journalist with the Island Examiner. He appears quite taken with Paine Underwood’s story. The day after Paine sinks the Coral Queen, the headline of the paper reads: “Local Cabbie Defends Sinking of Casino Boat,” and the day after Operation Royal Flush, the headline is “Casino Boat Busted in Pollution Probe.” Ask students to select one of the headlines, and write the story as Miles Umlatt might have written it.

SOCIAL STUDIES
–The sheriff places a gag order on Paine Underwood. Have students read the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and write a brief essay that supports Paine’s belief that “even a jailbird has a constitutional right to go on television.” (p. 97) Have students research and outline the Coast Guard’s role in establishing and monitoring standards for marine environmental protection (www.uscg.mil/USCG.shtm/standards). Prepare a presentation that someone from the Coast Guard might give to Noah and Abbey’s school about the work of the Coast Guard, and how local citizens can help by reporting illegal operations.

SCIENCE–It is the job of the local health department to monitor shoreline pollution warnings. Discuss what happens when the biologists find too much bacteria in the water. Ask students to use books in the library or sites on the Internet to find out the health risks of swimming and fishing in polluted water. Make a brochure that Noah might make to describe the health risks caused by water pollution at Thunder Beach.

MUSIC–Donna Underwood listens to vocalist Sheryl Crow sing a song called “My Favorite Mistake.” She jokes that she could have written the song about Paine. Locate the lyrics to the song on the Internet. Then ask students to write additional lyrics that Donna Underwood might have written about her husband.

DRAMA–Paine Underwood looks straight into the Channel 10 cameras and says, “I sunk the Coral Queen as an act of civil disobedience.” He goes on to call Dusty Muleman a “ruthless greedhead.” Dusty’s lawyer challenges Paine to prove his “reckless and slanderous allegations.” Have the class stage a mock trial where Paine is charged with vandalism and civil disobedience. Include character witnesses that represent both sides

Internet Resources

Kids Health: For Kids
www.kidshealth.org/kid/feeling/emotion/bullies.html
This site focuses on dealing with bullies.

Carl Hiaasen
www.carlhiaasen.com
Carl Hiaasen’s official Web site.

Homeland Security: The U.S. Coast Guard
www.uscg.mil
The official site of the United States Coast Guard.

National Marine Sanctuaries
www.sanctuaries.nos.noaa.gov
The official site of the National Marine Sanctuaries.

The Nature Conservancy
http://nature.org/
The official website of the Nature Conservancy whose mission it is to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.

VOCABULARY

Ask students to write down unfamiliar words and try to define them by taking clues from the context of the novel. Such words may include: martyr (p. 22), stockade (p. 24), confidential (p. 24), expeditions (p. 25), submerged (p. 39), transom (p. 39), capsize (p. 39), erratic (p. 44), vicious (p. 54), gunwale (p. 56), accusations (p. 62), deluded (p. 63), technicality (p. 70), mortified (p. 77), absurdity (p. 98), felony (p. 99), anomaly (p. 102), intimidated (p. 124), obnoxious (p. 178), incriminate (p. 181), and pervert (183).

OTHER TITLES OF INTEREST

Hoot
Carl Hiaasen
Values in Conflict • Family
Bullying • Courage
Grades 4—7 / PB: 0-375-82916-4
HC: 0-375-82181-3 / GLB: 0-385-90013-9
Alfred A. Knopf

The Trial
Jennifer Bryant
19th-Century History
Grades 3—7 / PB: 0-440-41986-7
HC: 0-375-82752-8 / GLB: 0-375-92752-2
Yearling

Remote Man
Elizabeth Honey
Action & Adventure • Humorous Stories
Grades 5 Up / PB: 0-440-41901-8 / HC: 0-375-81413-2
Yearling

Lord of the Deep
Graham Salisbury
Family • Stepfamily
Grades 5 Up / PB: 0-440-22911-1
HC: 0-385-72918-9 / GLB: 0-385-90013-9
Yearling

Harry Sue
Sue Stauffacher
Values in Conflict • Courage • Bullying
Grades 3—7 / HC: 0-375-83274-2 / GLB: 0-375-93274-4
Alfred A. Knopf


ABOUT THIS GUIDE

Prepared by Pat Scales, Director of Library Services, South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, Greenville, South Carolina.

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