Hoot was prolific writer Carl Hiaasen’s first young adult book published in 2002. Hiaasen is normally known for his humorous “Florida Fiction” books that usually have an element of environmentalism mixed in. Hoot is no exception; Hiaasen is merely spreading his message to a different, wider, and probably more swayable audience by writing a book geared towards a younger audience. It is one of those YA books, though, that can be enjoyed by anyone pre-teen and up.
Roy Eberhardt is the protagonist of Hoot. He’s a young middle schooler who’s recently moved to Florida. Of course he’s picked on because he’s small and the new boy, and well, it’s middle school, and middle school just plain sucks for everyone. One day, while being assaulted by Dana, the school bus bully, Roy notices a strange, shoeless boy running past the bus. This discovery leads Roy on an adventure which eventually has him fighting against the building of a new Mother Paula’s Pancake House. The proposed site of the pancake house is home to multiple nests of burrowing owls, which will be killed if the restaurant is allowed to be built.
This fun little book is a Newbery Honor book, and it is quite entertaining. There are multiple good-natured messages regarding bullying and conservationism, and how to protest the right way. Hiaasen’s humor is subtle, and understandably and appropriately toned down for this particular genre. It’s an great read for anyone of any age.