Published by Random House Children's Books on September 10th 2002
Genres: Environment, Humorous Stories, Mysteries & Detective Stories, Nature & the Natural World, Young Adult
Unfortunately, Roy’s first acquaintance in Florida is Dana Matherson, a well-known bully. Then again, if Dana hadn’t been sinking his thumbs into Roy’s temples and mashing his face against the school-bus window, Roy might never have spotted the running boy. And the running boy is intriguing: he was running away from the school bus, carried no books, and–here’s the odd part–wore no shoes. Sensing a mystery, Roy sets himself on the boy’s trail. The chase introduces him to potty-trained alligators, a fake-fart champion, some burrowing owls, a renegade eco-avenger, and several extremely poisonous snakes with unnaturally sparkling tails.Roy has most definitely arrived in Carl Hiaasen’s Florida.
Roy Eberhardt is tired of being the new kid, and this time it’s humid Coconut Cove, Florida. At his new school, he gets beat up and bullied on the bus by Dana Matherson. However, if it hadn’t been for his face being smashed up against the bus window, he wouldn’t have seen the barefoot boy running past. Plus, his determination to find out more about the running boy introduces him to Beatrice the Bear, the one to fix his Dana Matherson problem, at least temporarily. Beatrice and the running boy lead him to the corner of East Oriole Avenue, a safe haven for owls—unless it gets bulldozed for a new Mother Paula’s Pancake house. Well, someone’s got to stand up for the owls, since they can’t stand up for themselves.
I started listening to this book as one of the books for my children’s literature class, and I’ve also had my eyes on it for a while—like, two years. It’s a middle grade book, so there wasn’t any romance, if that’s something you have to have in a story, but there was a lot of adventure. Roy hated Coconut Cove, but discovering the running boy and befriending Beatrice made his life more exciting. There is a movie based off the book, one of the reasons I wanted to add it to my read pile, and it follows the basic plot.
Hoot will appeal to reluctant readers, especially boys. It wasn’t one of my favorites to listen to, but it easily made the time pass. Whereas Roy’s parents didn’t have a large presence in the novel, they made a noticeable impact on his choices. For instance, Roy got his knowledge about the birds from spending time with his dad, and they supported his desire to save the owls. There are a few more adults in the novel—the police officer that always seemed to get stuck dealing with the vandalism at the construction site and the contractor. Each added a unique flare to the novel and gave it a more serious tone, emphasizing the importance of saving the helpless creatures.
Fun and adventurous, Hoot will appeal to younger readers and anyone looking for a story with heart.