Monday, April 13, 2020

MMGM- Face-to- Face with the Florida Bigfoot

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Always in the Middle and #IMWAYR day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.

Key, Watt. Beast: Face-to- Face with the Florida Bigfoot
April 14th 2020 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Adam is found on the side of the road after a car crash near a Florida swamp. He's injured, but his parents are missing. After some time in the hospital, his Uncle John picks him up and takes him home, giving him a little time to adjust to his new circumstances before going to school. It's hard, because not only are his parents gone, but Adam is pretty sure where-- right before the crash, he saw a shadowy figure that looked like a Sasquatch, and has a feeling that the creatures have his parents. He's so sure of this that he runs away from John's to find someone mentioned in a newspaper article as having seen a Bigfoot earlier. He manages to get to Travis Stanley's run down house, only to find that the man is in a wheelchair, bitter about his experiences, and perhaps even a bit deranged. After hearing all the man has to say, Adam decides to travel into the swamp to try to locate his parents. He takes supplies from Mr. Stanley's barn and head out, only to lose his boat to an aggressive sturgeon right away. Stranded, Adam starts to live off raw fish that he catches, his brain swirling from brief glimpses of an entire Sasquatch family. Stanley had talked about the fact that the creatures give off brain altering waves, and Adam certainly feels this. He also gets up close and personal with the creatures, comes to learn a bit about them, and gets some insight on what happened to his parents. He is eventually found injured gain, and tells his uncle about his experiences. Whether or not his uncle believes him, Adam's quest in the woods helps him to heal, and he also reaches out to Stanley and spends time with the man when he resumes his new life with his uncle.
Strengths: Like Martin's Hoax for Hire, this is a nice twist on the subject of cryptids. The idea that the creatures could scramble human thought with their sound was a good one. (There was a term for it, but the e arc would only load in 4 point font, so it's hard to find.) The big draw for this one is surviving in the wilderness, but Key always does interesting relationships, and Stanley is an intriguing character. I always love Key's notes about what inspired his writing. This had a little bit of a 1970s vibe to it, but that just might be because I remember Bigfoot being a big deal when I was growing up.
Weaknesses: I sort of wish the book cover did not include the subtitle. Cryptids are fascinating but tough to depict just right-- it's easy to make them look a bit goofy. This book doesn't do that, but the subtitle sort of does. Also, I expected the situation with the parents to end differently. Not bad, necessarily, but a little surprising.
What I really think: Thanks to Key's powerfully descriptive language, I never, ever want to spend time in Florida swamps, but his books are HUGELY popular in my library and have a stalwart band of followers who read everything he has written. The fact that his books are all stand alones is fantastic. Every time I see a new one is being published, I feel a wave of relief that I have a new book to hand to students that doesn't require them to commit to eight books!
Ms. Yingling


  1. I have always thought that Bigfoot lived in the Rocky Mountains, so this idea of a clan in Florida is a surprise to me. I haven't read anything by Watt Key, but have added this to my for later list.

  2. A Sasquatch story -- I remember being fascinated with the sighting. Not sure I'd want to go into a Florida swamp to search -- but what an engaging story. But, what happens to the parents. Am not familiar with Key's work, but I am intrigued.

  3. This sounds intriguing! It reminds me of Sasquatch by Roland Smith, which takes place in my neck of the woods. The Florida setting sounds interesting, and I think this would appeal to a lot of readers (like me) who like survival type books.

  4. I just got this one! Looking forward to reading it.

  5. I've not heard of this one, but the plot is pulling me in. I remember reading two other books by the same author: Deep Water and Hideout (or something close to those titles). Hope you are doing well amidst all of teh craziness in our world.

  6. Even without the cryptoid, the idea of pythons and alligators in our swamps is enough to keep me away :) This book looks like a great one for me to get for my Florida middle school.

    Stay safe, and happy reading this week :)

  7. I have one of his books, but I haven't read it yet, and I suggested that someone in my class should beat me to it, but no one has. It's Terror at Bottle Creek. I really like that cover, and this one looks interesting too. I can't handle Florida swamp description. I hate some of the animals there (at least in movies, never been in real life). Kate Messner's Wake Up Missing and my imagination just about killed me.

  8. I love survival books and am kind of fascinated by Cryptids. This sounds interesting. Thanks for telling me about it. I'll check it out.

  9. I've not yet read any of Keys books, but perhaps Beast will be my first. I always look forward to reading your Strengths, Weaknesses, and "What I really think" sections, Karen. It really helps me form my decisions, so thank you and have a wonderful reading week!