KA WORDCAST Taskmaster Book 2: Lesson 12 Part TWO

KA TASKMASTER Book 2: Lesson 12 Part TWO

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Taskmaster Lesson 12 Mini Test 1

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Taskmaster Lesson 12 Mini Test 2 

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Taskmaster Lesson 12 Mini-Test 3

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Today’s 9 words come from the Mini Test passagestaken from Scat, a thriller detective novel by Carl Hiaasen. To listen to a recording of these passages, tune into the KA Voicecast website.




 The CONSENT forms, which were signed by the parents, said that it wasn’t the school’s fault if their kid got hurt on the field trip.

 In the sentence above, CONSENT is used as an adjective to describe an official document giving permission to do something.  But CONSENT is usually a noun (or a verb, which we’ll get to later) that means permission to do something, especially permission given by someone in authority.  Synonyms include approval, permission, and authorization.

At no time did I give my CONSENT to allow photo images of my children to be used on the school’s website.

Toby was grounded for two months for taking his parents’ car on a joyride without their CONSENT.

In America, children under the age of 16 cannot give CONSENT to medical treatment.  A parent or guardian must always sign for them.

The contents of this website may not be reproduced in part or in whole without the written CONSENT of Kikokushijo Academy.

CONSENT is also used to mean agreement among the members of a group, team, committee, and so on.

No changes to the organization’s constitution can be made without the CONSENT of all its core committee members. 

Danielle was chosen as the captain of her high-school softball team by common CONSENT of all the players.

Tom Cruise and Katy Holmes ended their six-year marriage by mutual CONSENT.

As mentioned above, CONSENT is also a verb that means to agree to something or to give permission for something.

Hafid and Miriam very reluctantly CONSENTED to their daughter’s marriage to Henry, who was not only nearly twice her age but also a member of a different religion.  

Lord Watson willingly CONSENTED to a search of his vast estate by a team of detectives who were looking for a missing four-year-old girl.

By replying to this online questionnaire, you are CONSENTING to receiving promotional material from our sponsors. 



Dr. Dressler was hopeful but PERPLEXED.  After the assembly, he’d received a call from the lieutenant, who reported that Bunny Starch’s blue Pirus was gone at daybreak when the crews had returned to the Black Vine Swamp.

PERPLEXED is an adjective that is used to describe the feeling you get when you are unable to understand something or find yourself in a difficult situation.  Synonyms include confused, baffled, puzzled, mystified, and dumfounded.  Some informal synonyms include bamboozled, floored, stumped, and fazed.

I’m really PERPLEXED.  I simply can’t understand why Norman would turn down a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like this.

PERPLEXED, lost, and already late, Walter sat in his car at the crossroads wondering which way to turn, a vowed to get a GPS installed.

Koji looked at his English teacher with a PERPLEXED expression when she asked him to use the word “ephemeral” in a sentence. 

PERPLEXING is another adjective form that means confusing or puzzling.  Similar words include confounding, baffling, unexplainable, and enigmatic.

Many English learners find spelling PERPLEXING because so many words deviate from basic phonetic rules. 

The second experiment in the chemistry exam, which was just as PERPLEXING as the first, was to create a colorless and odorless cleaning solution.

The crossword puzzle in this week’s Sunday Times was delightfully PERPLEXING and took me hours and hours to complete.

PERPLEX is a verb that means to cause someone to feel confused or baffled. Synonyms for PERPLEX include confound, puzzle, mystify, bewilder, and dumbfound.

The series of cryptic clues the serial murderer left at each crime scene PERPLEXED the homicide detectives.

Calculating compound interest rates for my savings account always used to PERPLEX me, so now I leave that task up to the bank and trust them to do it correctly. 

It PERPLEXES teachers and arouses their suspicions when an otherwise poor student suddenly performs unexpectedly well in an exam.

Though his fastball is not overpowering, the rookie pitcher PERPLEXES batters with his offbeat wind-up and great stuff.

PERPLEXITY is the noun form of PERPLEX.  PERPLEXITY means the state of being confused or puzzled.  It can also refer to a puzzling or confusing situation.

Most of the young pupils stared at their teacher in PERPLEXITY when she asked them to take out a sheet of paper and get ready for a pop quiz. 

We will never fully understand the PERPLEXITIES of life, so I just try to live my life to the fullest without thinking too much about it. 



That was a VIOLATION of the Truman faculty attendance policy, and nobody was a bigger stickler for school rules than Mrs. Starch.

In the example above, VIOLATION is a noun.  But before we discuss the noun form, let’s first look at the verb, VIOLATE.  VIOLATE means to break or fail to comply with a law, rule, or formal agreement.  Similar words include breach, defy, infringe, and disregard.

Though the rules and standards for conduct and behavior are clearly outlined in the Employee Handbook, some employees continue to VIOLATE them.

Deliberately VILOLATING traffic laws to avoid being late for work or school can backfire on you.  So obey the rules and drive safely.  It’s better to arrive alive.  

In business news, EasyPhone is broadening its legal battle with telecommunications giant ViaFone, claiming that nearly all of ViaFone’s products VIOLATE EasyPhone’s patents.

The superstar midfielder VIOLATED the terms of his contract by appearing in a commercial for a popular sports drink without the team’s consent.

VIOLATE also means to fail to respect someone’s privacy or rights, or to treat someone with disrespect.

“Your privacy is important to me, and I will not VIOLATE the trust you put in me,” said Dr. Dreyfuss to his anxious patient.  “Everything you say is between you and me.”

Jude Law accused members of the British tabloid press of VIOLATING his privacy by tapping his phone lines to obtain private information about him.

Now that we know what VIOLATE means, let’s go back to the noun form, VIOLATION, which is the action of breaking a law or rule, or not respecting someone’s rights or privacy.

“I cannot give you that information,” Dr. Dreyfuss told the detectives. “It would be a VIOLATION of patient-doctor confidentiality.”

The government’s stepped-up surveillance is being challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union as a VIOLATION of individual rights as protected by the United States Constitution. 

The Chinese government claimed that the North Korean aircraft shot down earlier this week was in VIOLATION of China’s air space.

Forging a parent’s signature on your report card return slip is a VIOLATION of the school’s conduct policies and is punishable by expulsion. 



Dr. Dressler wondered why nobody had ever talked Duane into playing for the Truman football team, which was in DIRE need of a fullback.

DIRE is an adjective that when describing a situation or event means extremely serious, urgent, or poor in quality.  Synonyms for DIRE include dreadful, desperate, appalling, and pressing.

Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of a young man who appears on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire? and wins, despite having grown up in DIRE poverty in the slums of Mumbai.

The situation following the earthquake in China’s Sichuan Province is DIRE, with thousands of people living without food, water, or shelter. 

My mother always used to say, “You should be ashamed of yourself for complaining about such petty things when people living in poor countries face DIRE, life-and-death crises every day.” 

The acting in Twilight: Breaking Dawn was predictably DIRE, but the special effects and cinematography made it well worth watching. 

The hot water tank in the school’s kitchen is in DIRE need of replacement.  Any monetary donations will be gratefully accepted. 

DIRE is often used to talk about a threat or potential disaster.  Synonyms for this usage include ominous, grim, gloomy, unfavorable, and pessimistic.

Over-indulgence in alcohol is a DIRE health risk with harmful long-term effects, including damage to the liver, kidneys, and other vital organs.

Politicians who side with former Vice President Al Gore argue that the consequences of global warming are a far more DIRE threat to national security than the threat of terrorism.

Despite DIRE predictions that tuition increases would mean a crisis for England’s universities, enrollment remains strong.

A commonly heard related expression is DIRE STRAITS, which means a very difficult situation.

Many High Street shops around the country are in DIRE STRAITS and may go out of business if we don’t curb online shopping and start supporting local businesses.   

DIRELY is the adverb form of DIRE.  Similar words include urgently, seriously, pressingly, and desperately.

Clean water, non-perishable food, and clothing are still DIRELY needed in the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.

DIRENESS is the noun form of DIRE and means a very serious, even very dangerous situation.

The DIRENESS of the situation in the world’s 34 “biodiversity hot spots” cannot be overemphasized.  Plant and animal life in these regions is dying out at an alarming rate.




The consent forms, which were signed by the parents, said that it wasn’t the school’s FAULT if their kid got hurt on the field trip.

FAULT is a noun that means the responsibility for something wrong that has happened or been done.  Synonyms include responsibility, culpability, and blameworthiness.

Don’t blame me for our being late.  It was all Colin’s FAULT.    

Failing your history test is your own FAULT.  You can’t blame the teacher or the test.  You should have read the instructions carefully first. 

Why should I have to pay an insurance excess of $500 when the accident clearly wasn’t my FAULT?

Many homeless people find themselves living on the streets through no FAULT of their own.  They are the victims of a poorly managed national economy and shady banking industry.

A FAULT is also a bad or weak aspect of someone’s character.  Similar words for this usage include flaw, imperfection, shortcoming, and weakness.

I love my husband despite all his FAULTS.

Conner and Kristi think their precious son Mark has no FAULTS, but he is the worst behaved child in all of 4th grade!

One of Harriet’s FAULTS as a manager is her inability to delegate responsibilities effectively to the right people. 

Hendricks’s new book is more hagiography than biography and tries to cover up all its subject’s FAULTS.

FAULT may also mean a problem with a machine or system.  The most commonly used synonym is defect.

The new car model has a major FAULT in the design of its rear window.  No driver under six feet tall can see out of it. 

Firefighters at the scene said that the house fire was more than likely caused by an electrical FAULT. 

Upon further investigation, it was reported that a structural FAULT caused the stadium bleachers to collapse, injuring scores of people.

And finally, in geology, a FAULT is a place where there is a break in the layers of rock in the earth’s crust, making that area susceptible to earthquakes.

Tokyo is located along a major FAULT line and is subject to frequent tremors and earthquakes. 

The San Andreas FAULT runs approximately 1,300 kilometers through the state of California. 

As a verb, FAULT means to criticize someone for his or her inadequacy or mistakes, and is usually used with “can” or “can’t,” as in:

Though he drinks too much and can be moody and hard to get along with, no one can FAULT Mr. Darwin for his dedication to teaching music to impoverished inner-city children.

Miguel was not a hard worker, though he had always been courteous and polite—I couldn’t FAULT him for that.

Something that is FAULTY is working badly or unreliably because of defects or imperfections.  Similar words include defective, broken, damaged, and out of order.

Never hesitate to take something back to the store and ask for a refund if the product is FAULTY.

At first, the mid-air collision was blamed on FAULTY radar equipment in the control tower, but further investigation showed that it was the result of human error.

Did you see the episode of Grey’s Anatomy when they replaced a patient’s FAULTY heart valve with a healthy one from a pig?  Can surgeons really do that?

FAULTY, when describing reasoning or logic, means mistaken or misleading because of flaws, as in:

FAULTY reasoning can only lead to disaster, so make sure you look at the situation or problem from various perspectives before you make a big decision.

In my opinion, supporters of the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which deals with the right to bear arms, are basing their argument on FAULTY logic. 

One commonly heard related phrasal verb is FIND FAULT WITH, which means to intentionally or even cruelly look for mistakes in someone or something. Look at this example:

My mother-in-law Nicola is a critical, self-righteous woman who is always FINDING FAULT WITH the way I raise her grandchildren—my children!

Another common phrase is TO A FAULT, which is used to say that someone or something has a lot, even too much, of a particular good quality.

Vivian is kind, conscientious, and trusting TO A FAULT, and often wonders why people take advantage of her. 

Something that is FAULTLESS is perfect.

After only one year as a foreign exchange student in Australia, Chiaki was speaking nearly FAULTLESS English.

And finally, FAULTLESSLY is an adverb that means perfectly.

All his friends and family were pleasantly surprised to hear Charlie play FAULTLESSLY at his very first piano recital.



“I almost called in sick.  I do not like swamps,” Marta CONFIDED to Nick.

The verb CONFIDE means to tell someone secrets or information that you don’t want other people to know.  Synonyms include disclose, divulge, reveal, and confess.

Arthur CONFIDED to Jake, his best friend in the band, that he wanted to quit playing and settle down and start a family.

When I was a little girl, I used to CONFIDE all my secrets to my favorite doll, Agatha.

For the first time since the death of her husband, Janine felt the need to CONFIDE her feelings of loss and grief to someone, and reached out to her sister, Karyn.

Frank did not feel comfortable CONFIDING his personal problems to any of his colleagues at the office, so he spoke to his priest instead.

The phrase CONFIDE IN is used to talk about a person you can trust enough to tell your secrets and most private thoughts to.

Herb is reserved and finds it hard to CONFIDE in others, and always keeps his problems bottled up inside him.

My daughter is no longer just a child to me but a true friend whom I can always CONFIDE IN.

Greg talks to you as if he is CONFIDING IN you, but nothing he says is really sincere or truthful.

CONFIDING is the adjective form of CONFIDE.  CONFIDING is usually used to describe a relationship that is built on trust.

Although we live on two different continents, my best friend Myly and I still have a CONFIDING friendship. 

CONFIDINGLY is the adverb form.  It means trustingly.

At Thanksgiving dinner, Liezl looked at her mother CONFIDINGLY, which always meant that she had some personal problem to discuss and wanted to get away from the others.

CONFIDENCE is a noun related to CONFIDE that means the state of trusting someone to keep a secret or the state of feeling able to talk openly to someone.

It took a long time for me to gain Carrie’s CONFIDENCE, but when she did finally open up to me, we realized that we had a lot in common. 

I have something important to tell you.  Do I have your complete CONFIDENCE?

CONFIDENCE often appears in the phrase IN CONFIDENCE, as in:

Gloria told me about her writing a novel IN the strictest CONFIDENCE.  She didn’t want anyone to know about it because the story was autobiographical and many of the characters were based on our friends and neighbors.

And don’t forget, though the meaning is a bit different, you can have CONFIDENCE in yourself, too, that is, a positive feeling that you have about your ability to accomplish or gain something.

Sam has many talents, but he has been held back by his lack of CONFIDENCE.

You can also have similar CONFIDENCE in someone else, as in:

“I want you to cut my film,” the director told the young editor.  “I have complete CONFIDENCE in you.”

CONFIDENTIAL is the adjective form of CONFIDENCE.  It describes something that is intended to be kept secret.

The envelope had “CONFIDENTIAL” stamped in big block letters across it, which made me want to steam it open and peek inside.

Your medical records are strictly CONFIDENTIAL and will not be released to anyone, under any circumstances.

Francois was dismissed from his job as Human Resources manager for revealing CONFIDENTIAL information about employees to his friends outside the office. 

Isaac spoke to his colleagues in a CONFIDENTIAL tone of voice to make sure that no one outside of the management team learned about the impending layoffs.

CONFIDENTIALLY is an adverb that means in a way that is meant to be private or secret.  Synonyms for CONFIDENTIALLY include privately, secretly, and IN CONFIDENCE.

Residents in the town of Berkhamsted can CONFIDENTIALLY and anonymously report any illegal or suspicious activities online.

Caleb told his secretary CONFIDENTIALLY that he was planning to retire at the end of the year.

CONFIDENTIALITY is a noun related to CONFIDENTIAL.  It means a situation or information that is meant to be kept private or secret.

The survey results will be treated with complete CONFIDENTIALITY.  Your name or other personal information will not be disclosed.

To ensure CONFIDENTIALITY, do not sign the ballot when voting.

CONFIDENTIALITY is often used as an adjective, as in:

As a freelance interpreter and translator, I am often asked to sign a CONFIDENTIALITY agreement whenever I start a new job.

Mr. Weaver came this close to losing his job for violating the CONFIDENTIALITY clause of his employment contract.


She hadn’t shown up for classes that morning, which, given the circumstances, was EXCUSABLE—yet she hadn’t even called to say she’d be absent.

EXCUSABLE is an adjective that means able to be justified or forgiven.  Synonyms for EXCUSABLE include forgivable, pardonable, and justifiable.

Arriving late for a job interview is never EXCUSABLE, and if you are late, it is very unlikely that you would be hired.

The twins were so alike in every way that mistaking one for the other was completely EXCUSABLE.

A Freudian slip can be funny and EXCUSABLE the first time, but making the same mistake twice is just plain obnoxious.

EXCUSABLY is the adverb form of EXCUSABLE.  Similar words include forgivably, rightfully, and justifiably.

My mom was EXCUSABLY upset.  I had promised to do the dishes and fold the laundry, but I got wrapped up in a game I was playing and totally forgot.

These words’ opposites, INEXCUSABLE and INEXCUSABLY, are also commonly used:

The government’s support of the oil company is INEXCUSABLE given that the company’s carelessness is clearly to blame for the spill.

Professor Martin INEXCUSABLY humiliated me during the seminar, treating my comments and questions as if they were beside the point and just plain stupid.

An EXCUSE is a reason or explanation, either true or invented, that you give to explain or defend your behavior.  Similar words include reason, justification, and defense.

I can’t believe you’re late again! What’s your EXCUSE this time?

There is no EXCUSE for not turning in your book report.  You’ve had all of spring vacation to work on it!  

Grayson gave me another lame EXCUSE for forgetting our wedding anniversary.  He said he was too worried about Kim Jung Un’s nuclear threats.  How stupid does he think I am? 

Please don’t make EXCUSES for Sadie’s behavior at lunch this afternoon.  I don’t care if she had a headache.  Being rude to the waiter is simply not EXCUSABLE.

Just because you didn’t have any money with you, that’s no EXCUSE for shoplifting a magazine!

An EXCUSE is also a good reason that you give for doing something that you actually want to do for other reasons.

A monthly book club is just an EXCUSE for women to get together and gossip over wine and snacks.

The heavy snowstorm forecast for later this afternoon gave me an EXCUSE to cancel my weekly visit with my father-in-law at the senior home. 

A picnic is a great EXCUSE for getting the family out of the house and into the fresh air.

An informal, but rather useful phrase is EXCUSE FOR, which is used to describe something or someone  that is inadequate or not up to expectations.   It is often used with poor or pathetic, as in:

Well, I’m glad Gunther has been let go.  He was a pathetic EXCUSE FOR a manager, who treated his workers terribly.

It was a poor EXCUSE FOR a movie.  The acting was bad, the story ridiculous, the dialogue completely unnatural, and, most upsetting of all, violent in the extreme.

The verb EXCUSE has several uses.  First, it means to lessen the blame, fault, or offense attached to something.

Jessica said nothing to the police that would EXCUSE her husband’s abuse.  She explained in her statement exactly how she got the cut lip and bruise over her left eye. 

American tourists often seem to think that because they’re in a foreign country, their bad behavior should be EXCUSED—just because they’re Americans.

EXCUSE is also used to mean to release someone from a duty or requirement, or to allow someone to leave a room or gathering.

I was EXCUSED from jury duty as, coincidentally, I had had a personal relationship with the defendant in the past. 

Please EXCUSE my daughter for her absence from school yesterday.  She had a stomachache.

Now, if you’ll EXCUSE me, I have to attend another meeting with the section manager.

Alison politely EXCUSED herself from the table to take a phone call. 

In causal situations, EXCUSE can also mean to overlook or forgive someone for a fault or offense.

You must EXCUSE my husband for his shouting.  He’s a bit hard of hearing and doesn’t realize how loud he is sometimes.

Please EXCUSE the mess.  I haven’t had time to tidy up this morning.

The phrase EXCUSE ME has a number of uses. You can use it when you want to (1) get someone’s attention, (2) ask someone to move to allow you to pass by, (3) ask someone for forgiveness, (4) interrupt or disagree with a speaker, or (5) ask someone to repeat something that has been said.  Look at the following examples:

EXCUSE ME.  May I have your attention please?  We are about to begin the poetry reading.

EXCUSE ME, but could I get past?  The receptionist just called out my name.  Thank you.

EXCUSE ME.  I burped.

EXCUSE ME, but I believe I was speaking.  Please don’t interrupt.

EXCUSE ME, but could I just say something quickly before you go on?

EXCUSE ME, but could you please repeat that?  Was it Hannah with an H, or Anna with an A?



Even from a distance, Dr. Dressler easily IDENTIFIED the student as Nick Waters because of the bulky sling contraption that he wore on his right shoulder.

IDENTIFY is a verb that means to establish or indicate who or what someone or something is.  Synonyms for IDENTIFY include recognize, pick out, point out, and distinguish.

The three bodies found near the Green River were IDENTIFIED as those of the University of Washington cheerleaders who had gone missing over a year ago while on a camping trip.

Alexa was able to positively IDENTIFY her stalker from the database of photo images the police showed her of previously convicted stalkers.

Some chemical elements can be IDENTIFIED by the colors they emit while burning.

If you are planning to go bird watching in South America, you’ll need to get a guidebook to help you IDENTIFY the various species.

One of the questions on the geology exam was to IDENTIFY the different types of crystal formations.

IDENTIFY also means to recognize or distinguish something that is considered worthy of attention. Similar words include determine, establish, ascertain, and make out.

America needs to set up a medical-care system that ensures that the real needs of the people are IDENITFIED and met.

The school has been recognized for its outstanding achievements and ability to swiftly IDENTIFY pupils with special educational needs.

Scientists have recently IDENTIFIED a link between pesticides and the diminishing bee population in England.    

To IDENTIFY WITH means to associate with or regard as having strong links with. It can also mean to equate someone or something with someone or something else.   Synonyms for this usage include associate, link, connect, and relate.

Because of Jeremiah’s Texas accent, people often IDENTIFY him WITH ranchers or oil rig workers, when in fact he is a pediatric surgeon.

You should not IDENTIFY wealth WITH happiness.  Some of the richest people I know are the most miserable.

And finally, IDENTIFY WITH means to see oneself as sharing the same characteristics, quality, or thinking as someone else, or to have sympathy for another’s situation.

Of all the characters on Friends, I IDENTIFY myself most WITH Monica, the organizer and neat-freak, but my friends argue that I am more like the ditzy one—Phoebe.

After several years serving in the Peace Corps in Africa, Hayden had a difficult time IDENTIFYING with his conservative father, who had never set foot out of Kentucky. 

I can easily IDENTIFY WITH  your perplexity.  I’ve been in a similar situation many times before and had no idea how to handle it.

IDENTIFIABLE is the adjective form of IDENTIFY.  IDENTIFIABLE means easy to recognize or distinguish.  Synonyms include recognizable, known, and perceivable.

Our house is easily IDENTIFIABLE by the electric gates and high walls outside.

It’s easy to get lost driving around in the suburbs outside of Tokyo, as there are few IDENTIFIABLE features or unique landmarks.

IDENTIFICATION is a noun that means the process of showing, proving, or recognizing who or what someone or something is.

You must present two pieces of IDENTIFICATION and a recent utility bill when renting a car. 

Upon entry to the indoor soft-play area, children are tagged with a bracelet for IDENTIFICATION.

IDENTIFICATION of the victim was made by examining his dental records.

And just for the record, if you are ever asked for your ID, whether at a bank, bar, or other service counter, you must present something such as a passport or driver’s license that proves your identity, age, and address.  ID is short for IDENTIFICATION.



Had Dr. Dressler been able to hear every word that Duane said on the practice field, he might have reserved his opinion about the ARSON in the Black Vine Swamp.

ARSON is a noun that means the crime of deliberately setting fire to something, especially a building.  Synonyms for ARSON include pyromania and torching.

It is not yet known if the fire was caused by ARSON or was an accident.

Because ARSON fires can be difficult to determine or detect, the actual number of such fires is not always reflected in local crime statistics.

As part of an agreement with the prosecution, two former Yale students pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit ARSON. 

An ARSONIST is someone who commits ARSON.  Similar words, including some informal terms, are pyromaniac, firebug, and pyro.

Police believe that ARSONISTS were responsible for the fire set at the junkyard over the weekend.

After further investigation, an ARSON specialist stated that the ARSONISTS used barbecue fuel lighters to burn down the mobile library. 



For Your Information


The readings for this lesson all come from Scat, a thriller/detective novel with a serious environmental theme written for young people by Carl Hiaasen.  Carl Hiaasen is also the author of many bestselling mysteries for adult readers, as well as an award-winning columnist for the Miami Herald.  All of his work, both fiction and non-fiction, is set in his native Florida and reflects his love for the state’s amazingly diverse, if threatened, flora and fauna—and his detestation of the greedy capitalists and land developers who are destroying the land.  Scat, which has won a host of literary awards and honors, boasts a colorful cast of characters (young people and adults alike) and a keep-the-pages-turning plot.  The book came out in 2009 and was preceded by two other bestselling and acclaimed books for young people, Hoot and Flush.  If you would like to read Scat (and you’ll be glad you did!), feel free to borrow it from the KA library.


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