Hoot – Carl Hiaasen

HootBook Review by Grace Heine

Roy heard a short high-pitched coo-coo. Then, from across the lot came another…
“Wow,” Roy said, under his breath.
There, standing by the hole and peering curiously at one of the meatballs, was the smallest owl he had ever seen…
“Okay – now do you get it?”
“Yeah,” said Roy. “I get it.”” (Hoot, page 124)

First there was the running boy. Roy saw him tearing down the street as if being chased – but there was no one behind him. Curious, Roy determines to find out who this strange boy is, but neither the boy, nor the tough girl at school, want him found. Only after an unforeseen accident does Roy meet the running boy, and after that the bizarre things which have been happening down at the site of a new pancake house start to make sense.

This book was … eh. It wasn’t terrible, but Hoot definitely doesn’t rank in my Top Ten Favorite Books List – or even my top two hundred. There’s a pancake house, a bunch of endangered owls, and a juvenile delinquent who can catch fish with his fingers. I may just be too old for this book, or maybe it’s because I don’t like books about animals, but I found myself bored while reading Hoot. (To answer the obvious question: the reason I was reading this book is because I’m doing my library book challenge which requires me to read a book from the year I was born.) I also didn’t like how the boys framed and used Dana, even if he was terrible to them. It seemed to me that Roy and Mullet Fingers were sinking to – and even below – Dana’s level of meanness.

I liked the fact that throughout this book I found myself relating to Roy in several aspects of his life. The book had some funny moments, and made a strong case for standing up for what you believe in. However, the last point may have been stressed too much. While Roy and his friends were doing the right thing by trying to save the owls, they were breaking the law doing it. They trespass, sabotage equipment, defy police officers, and even get a kid arrested (twice) for their crimes.

I recommend Hoot for middle school readers who are interested in endangered animals, or enjoyed Dolphin Tale, Flipper, Duma, Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest, or The Lorax (sorry, most of these are movies). Hoot was also made into a movie.

Carl Hiaasen has written three other books in what I would call his “Unofficial Environmental Series”: Flush, Scat, and Chomp. *Disclaimer* I have not read these books but they appear to all have different protagonists, are set in Florida, and focus on saving animals.

For More Information about the Book and Author ClickHERE

Age Range: 9 and up

Cautions

Violence: Dana beats Roy up. Beatrice’s parents fight. Dana and his parents physically fight. A boy is bitten by a dog. Beatrice broke a boy’s collarbone after he slapped her butt. She also tries to bite off her mother’s toe.

Sensuality: Beatrice spends the night on Roy’s floor.

Profanity: D–n, and a– are said a few times.

Other (drugs/alcohol): Dana has stolen a lot of things and smokes. Roy lies to his parents, and the hospital staff. Beatrice’s parents got a divorce. Mrs. Leep doesn’t care about her son and wants him out of her life. Roy’s mom had a miscarriage. Dana is stripped down to his underwear (by a girl) and tied to the flagpole. A company is breaking the law. Dana physically fights his parents. A boy is breaking and entering on the private property of the pancake house. The police are viewed in a negative light, as the constable in charge of guarding the pancake house is a bumbling fool. Roy’s parents act very uncaring about the fact that he has been lying to them.

Personal Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Cleanness Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

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Grace Heine is a 17-year-old wanna be writer who spends most of her time reading, writing, playing piano, or finding clever ways to be unproductive. You can visit her book review blog here.

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