Bestselling novelist Carl Hiaasen is back with another hysterical mystery adventure for young readers, set in the Florida Keys. You know it's going to be a rough summer when you spend Father's Day visiting your dad in the local lockup. Noah's dad is sure that the owner of the Coral Queen casino boat is flushing raw sewage into the harbor ;which has made taking a dip at the local beach like swimming in a toilet. He can't prove it though, and so he decides that sinking the boat will make an effective statement. Right. The boat is pumped out and back in business within days and Noah's dad is stuck in the clink. Now Noah is determined to succeed where his dad failed. He will prove that the Coral Queen is dumping illegally . . . somehow. His allies may not add up to much ;his sister Abbey, an unreformed childhood biter; Lice Peeking, a greedy sot with poor hygiene; Shelly, a bartender and a woman scorned; and a mysterious pirate ;but Noah's got a plan to flush this crook out into the open. A plan that should sink the crooked little casino, once and for all.
The curriculet is being added to your library
"Key" is a term used to refer to a small, low island. The Florida Keys are a group of islands off the coast of southern Florida. As you can see in the map below, today these keys are all connected to the mainland by Highway 1, but they are surrounded on all other sides by water. (This annotation contains an image)
Noah tells his father, "Nobody thinks you're a criminal." Yet his father is in jail and has clearly been in trouble with the law before. What might Noah be implying when he says his father is not a criminal?
Since this story is set near the water, you can expect many references to boats throughout the book. Study the boat terms below to help you understand these references. The boat in the diagram is a small motorboat, just one of the many types of boats included in Flush. As you continue reading, refer back to this diagram when necessary. (This annotation contains an image)
Which option best sums up Noah's description of Dusty Muleman and the Coral Queen?
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up?
How will Noah's relationship with his father most likely affect the plot of this book?
As you read, pay attention to the point of view of the story. Think about who the narrator is and what qualities and experiences that narrator brings to the story. Watch the video below for more information about point of view. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the point of view of this book?
Note how Lice's way of acting contrasts with Noah's dad's. Lice will only do a good deed if he gets paid or benefits in some way. Paine Underwood will do what he believes to be right without getting anything in return. In fact, in the case of the Coral Queen's pollution, not only does Paine not get paid, but he risks jail, his job, and his reputation in hopes of saving the waters from contamination.
List two complications that Noah has encountered in this chapter while trying to investigate Muleman for his father.
What is the best synonym for the word "gravely" in this sentence?
The green flash is a real, but rare, optical phenomenon. It generally occurs at sunrise or sunset when the atmosphere causes the light rays from the sun to separate into different colors. It is easiest to see at a place like the ocean where the view of the horizon is unobstructed. Watch the video below to get a glimpse of this extraordinary phenomenon. Pay attention to the 0:12 mark! (This annotation contains a video)
This plaid suitcase is symbolic to Noah. It represents his mother's decision to leave his father. With the suitcase put safely away, Noah understands that his mom has decided to work things out with his dad for the time being.
The setting of Flush is hugely important to the plot. It affects the characters' actions and emotions. Which option below best captures the setting of the novel?
Lobster season is roughly from August to March. This means it is illegal to catch lobsters from April through July. The schedule was put in place to allow lobsters time to breed and stabilize their population during the off-season. Penalties for hunting out of season can include jail time and/or fines of up to $1000. (This annotation contains an image)
What does Shelly mean by the "human kind" of sewage?
Did you know that illegal dumping can be extremely dangerous to both humans and animals? Although the characters in this book are fictional, the issues and laws discussed are real. Check out more about marine debris and the many real laws regulating ocean dumping at the website below, created by the Environmental Protection Agency. Click the blue link to go to the website. (This annotation contains a link)
According the the EPA's website, what are three ways that marine debris can harm the environment?
It’s important to recognize how setting can affect the plot, characters, and even the point of view. Explain how living in the Florida Keys has shaped Noah’s hobbies and his knowledge about the world around him.
Watch the video below, then see if you can identify the protagonist and antagonists in this book. (This annotation contains a video)
List the three main antagonists that have emerged in this story so far.
What literary device does the highlighted phrase contain?
What does the narrator's choice of the adjective "gas-hogging" imply?
A charter is a boat hired to take amateur fishermen out to the best waters for fishing. Tarpon (shown below) is a popular fish caught in the Florida Keys region. (This annotation contains an image)
What is the real reason Mrs. Underwood comes into the room?
Do you notice a pattern too? Paine Underwood loves to protect animals and wildlife. He also tends to react very dramatically when he sees people harming nature. These tendencies have created a pattern of good intentions followed by bad results.
As the story continues, more and more complications arise. These complications are caused by conflicts and are part of the rising action of the plot. For a description of rising action and other stages in a story's plot, watch the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
The problem of Grandpa Bobby's missing body is just one more conflict in the lives of the Underwoods. It seems like a minor detail, but it has been mentioned multiple times, so it must be important in some way.
Which of Noah's parents do you agree with: is Paine being a political prisoner or a selfish jerk? Support your answer using details from the story.
Notice how much slang the characters use in this book. This helps make the dialogue seem more realistic, especially when the author tries to imitate a character's dialect, or regional way of speaking.
Carl Hiaasen, the author of "Flush," often uses imagery to help describe his scenes. Imagery is description that appeals to the five senses. The highlighted paragraph shows sight and sound imagery. The examples below provide more samples of the five types of imagery. Be on the lookout for more imagery as you keep reading. (This annotation contains an image)
Noah's assertion that he is "one thousand percent certain" is an example of
Conflicts come in two kinds: internal and external. An internal conflict is when a character struggles with his or her own emotions or decisions. An external conflict is when a character struggles against an outside force or character. As Chapter Five ends, Abbey is definitely facing an external conflict. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the effect of making this paragraph only a single sentence in length?
Nelson Mandela (1918-2013) was a man who fought for racial equality in South Africa. His actions leading protests landed him in prison for 27 years. During that time, he refused at least three offers to leave prison that would have required him to give up some of his demands for racial equality. As a result of his strong principles, he became well known as a supporter of equality and social justice. (This annotation contains an image)
Noah's decision to bring the chess book shows kindness and thoughtfulness. Describe two other times in the story when Noah demonstrated these character qualities.
It's clear that family means a lot to Noah. His best memories are of times spent with his family. This makes the tension between his mom and dad even harder for him to deal with.
Choose the adjective that best describes Noah's attitude toward his sister in the highlighted sentence.
Write down a sentence from this page that contains either sound or sight imagery.
What earlier details in the story help explain how Shelly could help Noah's dad prove that the Coral Queen has been dumping waste into the water?
Saskatchewan is a province in Canada, roughly 2500 miles from Disney World. (This annotation contains an image)
Which words best describe Paine Underwood's personality?
Authors sometimes use three stars (like you see here) to indicate the passage in time between paragraphs. Other times, they just use an extra large space, known as a page break, to show a jump in time. Carl Hiaasen, author of "Flush," uses both techniques.
How does Noah's first person point of view affect this scene with his mom on the phone?
Often, similes like this one also contain imagery. By comparing the bald guy to Rado's snoring dog, Noah gives us a good example of sound imagery.
What literary device does the highlighted line contain?
Ch. 1-7 Quiz
When the characters in "Flush" discuss themselves and their opponents, they often use some strong language. Many of their words have strong connotations. A connotation is an emotion or idea associated with a word. A denotation is just the simple dictionary definition of a word. "Rodent-faced" definitely has a negative connotation of someone ugly or sneaky, but its denotation merely indicates someone whose facial features are similar to a rat's. Watch the video below for more examples of denotation and connotation. (This annotation contains a video)
Which of the following phrases has a positive connotation? (Remember to click on a word and use the dictionary if you are unsure of its meaning.)
Shelly's tattoo is another symbol in the book. It represents the tough side of her personality.
Which of the following is not a reason Shelly believes Lice is dead?
From Noah's point of view, Shelly's kiss is "totally outrageous." What do you think the kiss represents from Shelly's point of view? Explain why you think this.
Miami is known for being a city with high crime rates.
The transom is the piece of wood that forms the stern of the boat. You can see it labeled near the bottom of this diagram. (This annotation contains an image)
What does the author do at the end of this chapter to build suspense and make you want to keep reading?
By this point in the book, there are several themes that have begun to grow clear. Watch the video below for an explanation of theme. (This annotation contains a video)
What theme of the book does Paine Underwood capture in the highlighted lines?
Notice the sudden scene change. Noah's mom wanted to speak to him privately, but the author does not include the details of what she said to him. The narration just moves on to a scene at Thunder Beach. Try to consider what Mrs. Underwood might have said to Noah in their private conversation.
Use the dictionary feature to look up the word "anomaly." Then choose the word below that is the best synonym (same meaning) for "anomaly."
This book is filled with descriptions of marine wildlife. Fish, turtles, and other water creatures are an important part of the setting and the Underwoods' everyday life. Paine Underwood comes to the water to think because he finds it peaceful and comforting. Watch the clip of needlefish swimming to get a sense of the marine wildlife the Underwoods see every day. Can you understand why they want to protect it? (This annotation contains a video)
Noah and his dad seem to have reversed roles a bit. In many ways, Noah is acting more like a parent to Paine than Paine is to Noah. What are two things Noah says or does in their conversation at Thunder Beach that make him seem more like the parent?
Noah's encounter with Bull and Jasper Jr. is an example of a(n)
Here is a picture of a policeman fastening an electronic ankle bracelet, much like Noah's dad had to wear. (This annotation contains an image)
Which word best describes Shelly's relationship with the Underwoods at this point?
The word "marina" contains the Latin root "mar," meaning "sea." It shares this root with terms like mariner, submarine, and marine biology. Can you guess what a marina is, based on its root and the picture below? Use the dictionary feature to double check. (This annotation contains an image)
What do the three stars (* * *)in between the highlighted lines indicate?
Paine Underwood's decision to sink the Coral Queen created many complications. Which of the following conflicts was not a direct result of Paine's action?
Abbey and Noah's ages are never specified in the book, but due to context clues we can assume Abbey is somewhere around ten years old, which makes Noah around 13.
The importance of family is a theme that is heavily developed in this chapter. What are two incidents in this chapter that connect to this theme? (Hint: What does Noah say or do that indicate family matters a lot to him?)
How does Noah's perception of Dusty Muleman differ from his mom's?
A tarpon gaff is a giant hook on a stick used for hauling in heavy fish. (This annotation contains an image)
Emotions are running high in this chapter as the Underwoods search for Abbey and encounter Dusty Muleman. Think about the mood this creates for the reader. Watch the video below for a description of mood. (This annotation contains a video)
What is the mood of the highlighted scene? (Think about how it makes you, the reader, feel.)
The man in the picture is standing in a tuna tower. Abbey would have been in a small charter boat like this next to the giant Coral Queen. (This annotation contains an image)
What are two details from this scene that help to create a suspenseful mood?
Every time the Underwoods call their lawyer, they have to pay him. Paine's attack on the Coral Queen has certainly cost the family a lot of money, especially now that he's lost his job!
How have Paine's priorities changed by this point in the book?
Watch this 2010 news clip below from a Florida television station. Pay attention to the way this real story of sewage dumping compares and contrasts with the incidents in "Flush." (This annotation contains a video)
The 2010 news clip shows that sewage dumping is not just a fictional problem, but a real one. What is something you learned about dumping from this clip that is not mentioned in Flush?
Did you get all that? Billy Babcock owes Dusty so much money that Dusty is allowing him to pay off his debt with favors instead of money. Billy Babcock works at the Coast Guard station and calls Dusty every time they plan an inspection of the Coral Queen. Then, Dusty makes sure to hook the Coral Queen up to the fake sewage tank, so it looks like he's following the law.
One big theme of Flush is the importance of protecting the environment. Give specific examples to explain how this chapter connects to that theme.
Which line below connects to the book's theme of caring for the environment?
Once again, the author builds suspense by hinting at something exciting, but leaving the details for later.
Our two youngest antagonists are back. The antagonist count is now at four: Jasper Jr., Bull, Dusty, and Luno.
Use two adjectives to describe Abbey's personality. Give examples from the story to explain why you chose those adjectives.
"Comprende" is Spanish for "do you understand?" This should give us a small hint about the mysterious stranger's background.
Could the stranger be a new antagonist?
The setting in these last few pages helps create a calm, peaceful mood. Which setting description below contributes to this mood?
What is Abbey and Noah's plan?
The mysteries are piling up as the action continues to rise. What happened to Noah's grandpa's body? What happened to Lice Peeking? Who is this mysterious pirate? All these questions increase the suspense as we get closer to the climax.
Standard tips range from 10-30% of the tab (bill). Giving a ten-dollar tip on a ten-dollar tab means Billy is giving a 100% tip. This is so generous it sends a signal: Billy is interested in Shelly.
What is the best definition for the word "hairy" in this context?
"What goes around comes around" is an old proverb that means people will receive payback for their own actions. Good actions will bring good rewards; bad actions will bring punishment or bad luck. This belief in getting what you deserve has many names, including "poetic justice" and "karma."
Ch. 8-14 Quiz
Based on Noah's description of Rado's boat, what is one possible thing that could go wrong if Noah and Abbey are not careful?
"Geronimo" is actually an exclamation most commonly yelled when someone is jumping from a great height.
Noah uses hyperbole, or exaggeration, when he describes the water Shelly gives him. What is the effect of this hyperbole?
Noah is conflicted about whether to wait in the bathroom until the Coral Queen closes or to try and escape through the crowd. What kind of conflict is this: internal or external? Explain how you can tell.
When Noah refers to the elderly lady as a "buzzard," he is using
The Coral Queen is docked in an enclosed basin, like the semi-circular basin in the picture below. Noah must find the channel leading out of the basin before he can get to open waters and head home. (This annotation contains an image)
In which line below does Noah have a nervous tone?
Consider the implications of this well-chosen simile: if Luno is a hungry cat, then Noah and Abbey are his prey!
If Noah and Abbey succeed in dyeing the Coral Queen's sewage, this will be a turning point in the story. As a result, the suspense is at its highest point in this chapter. That means this chapter contains the book's
This means the little boat was hitting choppy, or wavy, water.
Noah and Abbey have run up against problem after problem in their escape. List four complications they have encountered since Noah left the bathroom on the Coral Queen.
This stormy setting is the perfect way to create a tense and frightened mood.
What theme does Abbey's highlighted comment relate to?
It's clear that we're in the falling action and nearing the resolution of the story since two important mysteries have finally been cleared up. The mysterious pirate man is Grandpa Bobby! (This annotation contains an image)
One of the book's themes has been the importance of family staying together. How does Grandpa Bobby's reappearance help develop this theme?
Grandpa Bobby has basically admitted that he broke the law smuggling emeralds. Because he was working with criminals, he couldn't call the police for help when his boat was stolen.
Both Paine and Bobby Underwood have broken the law in different ways. Was one man's crime worse than the other's? Give specific reasons to support your answer.
Even though Grandpa Bobby let his family down by disappearing for ten years, he shows he still cares by risking his safety to help his son when he gets in trouble.
How similar is Noah to his father? Give an example of one or more of his actions to support your answer.
A flare gun shoots out bright flames and is used as a warning or distress signal. (This annotation contains an image)
Which phrase below has a positive connotation?
This is a great example of onomatopoeia, or a word that captures a sound.
How does the family seem to feel about Grandpa Bobby?
The story is now even closer to its resolution. One more loose end has been wrapped up: the mystery of Lice Peeking's disappearance.
In a book all about saving the environment, you can tell the good guys by how they treat nature and animals. Shelly's actions here prove that she's in the good guy category.
In the eyes of Bull and Jasper Jr., what does the cold coin symbolize?
This change in character makes Paine a dynamic character.
For Abbey, what makes the earrings valuable?
Sailors have a long tradition of referring to boats as females. This personification, giving the boat human characteristics, emphasizes the sailors' emotional connection with their boats.
Listen to the famous song "Big Yellow Taxi" carefully. Think about what its message is as you listen to and read the lyrics. (This annotation contains a video)
Write three sentences explaining how "Big Yellow Taxi" is similar to Flush.
Remember Donna Underwood's belief that "what goes around comes around"? It seems to be coming true. Paine's good intentions have finally been rewarded.
Which word below is the best antonym (opposite) for frazzled?
This is known as irony. The fact that Dusty Muleman is trying to raise money to save the ocean is the exact opposite of what we would expect from a man who recklessly threw sewage into it for months.
Mrs. Underwood is feeding her husband since he can't use his hands.
Noah himself wonders if his father might have been involved with the burning of the Coral Queen, but he insists that his father is innocent even to his sister. What quality does this reflect?
The wording of this statement is meant to be humorous. The word "painful" has a double meaning. It suggests that Paine's progress took a lot of work and emotional energy. But in Paine's case it was also literally painful when he broke both hands rather than confront Dusty Muleman.
Paine's two broken hands seem like a big setback in the middle of a happy ending. How does his injury end up being lucky?
The Internal Revenue Service (the IRS) is the government agency responsible for collecting taxes. If Dusty hid the money, he probably never paid taxes on it, which is a federal crime. Dusty was also supposed to pay ten percent of his profits to the Miccosukee Indians. If he hid some of the money, he most likely did not give the Miccosukees ten percent of it, thus breaking their deal.
The climax of Flush comes with Noah and Abbey's boat escape in Chapter 16. This is followed by five chapters of falling action and resolution. What might explain why Hiaasen included such a long ending?
Ch. 15-21 Quiz