Hiaasen, Carl. 2002. HOOT. New York: Random House Children’s Books. ISBN 0-375-82181-3
(2) Plot Summary
It isn’t easy being the new kid. Roy Eberhardt finds himself the target of a bully when his family moves from Montana to Coconut Cove, Florida. One morning while being victimized on the bus, Roy spies a strange boy running bare-footed through the neighborhood. He becomes preoccupied with finding out who this boy is and his story. Later Roy becomes entangled in the mysterious boy’s plight to save some burrowing owls from certain destruction. Will Roy be able to rid himself of the bully as well as help his new friend save the endangered owls before it is too late?
(3) Critical Analysis
The character of Roy Eberhardt will be identifiable to some readers. The character is a bit unusual because he is interested in blending in not fitting in; he does not want to be noticed. By the end of the story Roy is willing to be noticed and take a stand in order to protect the burrowing owls, making some unexpected friendships along the way. Roy’s transition is the theme. The engaging plot will have readers wondering about the mysterious boy as well. The description of the setting is light enough that Hoot could very well take place in any small community. The dialogue out weights the narration but it suits the style of the story which offers both a bit of humor and some serious moments. The unhealthy families of Dana the bully and Mullet Fingers and his step-sister, Beatrice are not hidden from the readers. It is rather unsettling that Mullet Fingers’ personal situation remains unsolved. Perhaps Hiaasen wants to address that not everyone gets a fairytale ending. Maybe there is a sequel in the works.
(4) Review Excerpt(s)
Publishers Weekly: "Several suspenseful scenes, along with dollops of humor, help make this quite a hoot indeed."
Booklist: “… the story is full of offbeat humor, buffoonish yet charming supporting characters, and genuinely touching scenes of children enjoying the wildness of nature.
* Have students read another book by Carl Hiaasen:
Hiaasen, Carl. Flush. ISBN 0375841857
* Assign students to pick an environmental cause, write a report, and share with the class.