Monday, June 22, 2009

The Pirates of Crocodile Swamp -- Jim Arnosky

I saw this one on the shelf in the library, and I'm sure you know already why I couldn't pass it up. This is a middle-grade novel, not a YA, but it has a heck of a grim set-up, with the opening scene being the funeral of a youngster named Terry. His bothers, Sandy and Jack know the way that Terry died. Their father, an alcoholic abuser, accidentally knocked him down the stairs. But no one tells the true story.

Later, the dad picks Sandy and Jack up after school. He literally has blood on his hands, and they boys are sure he's killed their mother. The father starts driving and stops only when they reach the Florida keys. At this point Jack and Sandy escape, determined to live in Crocodile Swamp, which they've seen on "local attractions" show on motel TV.

Jack has watched every nature program he could find on TV for years, and he knows what's what. Both boys are bright, adaptable, and very fast learners. They get to the swamp and start their new life. Lots of croc scenes. Also snakes, sharks, and assorted other wildlife. All very well presented. Arnosky writes in a simple, straight-forward style that even adults can appreciate. There are plenty of adventures before the father catches up to them, and what happens after that is gruesome and shocking. Even to me. I guess kids love this kind of stuff.

I liked the book quite a bit, and it's yet another one that shows how much things have changed since I was reading about the Bobbsey Twins.


Terrie Farley Moran said...

Hi Bill,

That is an unbelievable plot line for middle grades. I woudn't encourage kids to read a book like this but as you say, a lot has changed since the Bobbsey Twins.

Still, I might want to read it.


Todd Mason said...

Bill, the April issue of PHOTO, the French original, which is still on US newsstands, has some absolutely stunning croc photos. You might or might not have any interest in the other pictorials.

or hit my name's hotlink

Bill Crider said...

Some wonderful shots. Thanks, Todd.