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Last updated Monday, April 4, 2005

Author: Carl Hiaasen
Date of Publication: 2002
ISBN: 0375821813
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Apr. 2005

Synopsis: Unfortunately, Roy's first acquaintance in Florida is Dana Matherson, a well-known bully. Then again, if Dana hadn't been sinking his thumbs into Roy's temples and mashing his face against the school-bus window, Roy might never have spotted the running boy. And the running boy is intriguing: he was running away from the school bus, carried no books, and-here's the odd part-wore no shoes. Sensing a mystery, Roy sets himself on the boy's trail. The chase introduces him to potty-trained alligators, a fake-fart champion, some burrowing owls, a renegade eco-avenger, and several extremely poisonous snakes with unnaturally sparkling tails. Roy has most definitely arrived in Carl Hiaasen's Florida.

Note to readers:
•  This is a chapter book that you won?t be able to finish. Aim to read through chapter 2 - page 23 (although you do not need to reach that point), and tell the children that the book will be placed into their library if they would like to check it out and read the rest.
•  During the reading, chapter one will have several natural breaking points for questions:
After page 3: What caught Roy?s attention? Do you think Roy made the right choice? What else could he have done?
After page 5: What happened at the site of Mother Paula?s? Why was Curly so upset? Who do you think was tearing up the stakes at the future site of the Pancake House? Why?
After page 8: Why can?t the police officer report the crime as ?vandalism?? What do you think will happen to the owls?
After page 12: Who do you think the running boy is? Why do you think he?s not in school?

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What does this book look like it?s about? In this book, Roy gets involved in solving a mystery. What is a mystery?
•  Have you ever had to move from one school to another? Or do you know any new kids at your school? How do you think that feels? What would be hard to get used to?
•  Vocabulary: wiry, vandalism, monetary, defaced, hoisted, trespassing, malicious, endangered species.
•  What?s a simile? (Have them point it out when it comes up in the book).

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What do you think happened next? What does the curly-haired girl know?
•  In the beginning of the book, Roy says that he never would have seen the running boy (which was a good thing), except for being hurt by Dana (which was a bad thing). Ever had anything similar happen?

Craft ideas:
•  Draw what you think happens in the rest of the book.
•  Re-read the last paragraph on page 1. Then have a volunteer hide in the room, and have the children write down and draw a description of the volunteer.
•  Write on the board some of the similes in the book--draw them.

Special activities:
•  Discuss examples of bullying and teasing in school, and brainstorm solutions.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!