Summary: Sarah is new to her school and very left out. During an Everglades field trip, she receives an offer from local boy (Andy) to take her on an airboat ride, so she lies to her teacher to get out of a morning tour and the two teens take off on their own. When the airboat sinks, they are miles from help and must walk until they find it.
Personal Reaction: I think I’ve found my SSYRA winner. Survival story is perfect. The duck addition to the plot adds heart – I was more worried for “Teapot” getting eaten than the main characters. Surprise character cameos at the end – I loved that book too!
Classroom use: Excellent choice for Florida units (ecosystems, survival, etc.) whether Science, Social Studies or PE. I even think that Home Ec or Food & Nutrition classes could get in on the unit and talk about wild foods (cattails and sawgrass hearts are edible)
Related books: Everglades River of Grass by Douglas; Sawgrass Poems by Asch; A Land Remembered by Smith; Lostman’s River by DeFelice; Welcome to the River of Grass by Yolen; biography of Marjory Stoneman Douglas; guide book to the Everglades like Paddling the Everglades Wilderness Waterway
Realia: bug spray, stuffed duck toy or photo of mallard duck & ducklings; alligator head; photos of Everglades, airboats (or toy model), Burmese pythons (especially this one), backpack, rubber boots, bandana, empty Gatorade bottle; bowl of minnows; cattails and sawgrass
Food for book parties: Spam, pumpkin bread, canned chili, canned fruit, Gatorade, leather belt!