Mrs. Starch – fearsome biology teacher – never returned from a field trip to Black Vine Swamp.

The principal says she was called away on a "family emergency," but Nick and Marta don't buy it. They think Smoke, the class delinquent, has something to do with her disappearance.

And he does! But not in the way that they think.

There's a lot more going on in Black Vine Swamp than any one player in this twisted tale can see. And Nick and Marta will have to reckon with an eccentric eco-avenger, a stuffed rat named Chelsea, a wannabe Texas oilman, a singing substitute teacher, and a ticked-off Florida panther before they'll really begin to see the big picture.

That's life in the swamp, kids.

Knopf 2008