Reviews for Hoot
Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 October 2002
Gr. 5-8. It seems unlikely that the master of noir-tinged, surrealistic black humor would write a novel for young readers. And, yet, there has always been something delightfully juvenile about Hiaasen's imagination; beneath the bent cynicism lurks a distinctly 12-year-old cackle. In this thoroughly engaging tale of how middle-schooler Roy Eberhardt, new kid in Coconut Cove, learns to love South Florida, Hiaasen lets his inner kid run rampant, both the subversive side that loves to see grown-ups make fools of themselves and the righteously indignant side, appalled at the mess being made of our planet. When Roy teams up with some classic children's lit outsiders to save the home of some tiny burrowing owls, the stage is set for a confrontation between right-thinking kids and slow-witted, wrongheaded civic boosters. But Hiaasen never lets the formula get in his way; the story is full of offbeat humor, buffoonish yet charming supporting characters, and genuinely touching scenes of children enjoying the wildness of nature. He deserves a warm welcome into children's publishing. ((Reviewed October 15, 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2003 Spring
This is a G-rated mystery/adventure set in South Florida, peopled with original, wacky characters. New kid Roy hooks up with a teenage runaway and his sister to protect the nesting ground for burrowing owls, threatened by construction. The narrative carries a lot of frenzied commotion that becomes more preposterous with each new character. Not consistently a hoot, but worthy of a holler, Hiaasen's first YA book is a humorous diversion. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Guide Reviews
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2002 #6
Hoot is quintessential Hiaasen-a mystery/adventure set in South Florida, peopled with original and wacky characters-with a G rating. Roy Eberhart, the new kid in town, hooks up with teenage runaway Mullet Fingers (so named because he can catch fish with his bare hands) and his sister Beatrice, a "major soccer jock...with a major attitude." The three discover that the proposed site for a Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House is also a nesting ground for small burrowing owls, a protected species, and they attempt to halt construction. Initiating a cover-up that reaches all the way to the mayor's office, Mother Paula's executives ignore the owls and try to speed up groundbreaking ceremonies before the public learns their secret. But Mullet Fingers sabotages their efforts: he removes survey stakes; puts alligators in the portable toilets; and releases a mess of cottonmouth snakes to scare away the guard dogs. The narrative carries a lot of frenzied commotion that only becomes more preposterous with each new character's entrance. There's Garrett, "king of phony farts" at middle school; Officer Delinko, not "the sharp-est knife in the drawer"; and Kalo, the amiable rottweiler trainer ("That vun dere is Max. That vun, Klaus. That vun, Karl. And that big vun is Pookie Face"). Each individual has a story to tell, sometimes advancing the plot (Officer Delinko's ambitious investigation provides believable access to all characters) and sometimes imposing an earnestness at odds with the humor (Beatrice and Mullet Fingers endure a dismal home situation). Not consistently a hoot, but worthy of a holler, Hiaasen's first YA book succeeds as a humorous diversion. Copyright 2002 Horn Book Magazine Reviews
Kirkus Reviews 2002 July #2
The straight-arrow son of a maybe-federal agent (he's not quite sure) turns eco-terrorist in this first offering for kids from one of detective fiction's funniest novelists. Fans of Hiaasen's (Basket Case, 2001, etc.) novels for adults may wonder how well his profane and frequently kinky writing will adapt to a child's audience; the answer is, remarkably well. Roy Eberhardt has recently arrived in Florida; accustomed to being the new kid after several family moves, he is more of an observer than a participant. When he observes a bare-footed boy running through the subdivisions of Coconut Grove, however, he finds himself compelled to follow and, later, to ally himself with the strange boy called Mullet Fingers. Meanwhile, the dimwitted but appealingly dogged Officer Delinko finds himself compelled to crack the case of the mysterious vandals at the construction site of a new Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House-it couldn't have anything to do with those cute burrowing owls, could it? The plot doesn't overwhelm with surprises; even the densest readers will soon suss out the connections between Mullet Fingers, the owls, and Mother Paula's steadfast denial of the owls' existence. The fun lies in Hiaasen's trademark twisted characters, including Dana Matherson, the class bully who regularly beats up on Roy and whose unwitting help Roy wickedly enlists; Beatrice Leep, Mullet Fingers's fiercely loyal sister and co-conspirator; Curly, Mother Paula's hilariously inept foreman; and Roy's equally straight-arrow parents, who encourage him to do the right thing without exactly telling him how. Roy is rather surprisingly engaging, given his utter and somewhat unnatural wholesomeness; it's his kind of determined innocence that sees through the corruption and compromises of the adult world to understand what must be done to make things right. If the ending is somewhat predictable, it is also entirely satisfying-Hoot is, indeed, a hoot. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2002 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2002 June #4
With a Florida setting and proenvironment, antidevelopment message, Hiaasen (Sick Puppy) returns to familiar turf for his first novel for young readers. Characteristically quirky characters and comic twists will surely gain the author new fans, though their attention may wander during his narrative's intermittently protracted focus on several adults, among them a policeman and the manager of a construction site for a new franchise of a pancake restaurant chain. Both men are on a quest to discover who is sabotaging the site at night, including such pranks as uprooting survey stakes, spray-painting the police cruiser's windows while the officer sleeps within and filling the portable potties with alligators. The story's most intriguing character is the boy behind the mischief, a runaway on a mission to protect the miniature owls that live in burrows underneath the site. Roy, who has recently moved to Florida from Montana, befriends the homeless boy (nicknamed Mullet Fingers) and takes up his cause, as does the runaway's stepsister. Though readers will have few doubts about the success of the kids' campaign, several suspenseful scenes build to the denouement involving the sitcom-like unraveling of a muckity-muck at the pancake house. These, along with dollops of humor, help make the novel quite a hoot indeed. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2004 May #3
"With a Florida setting and pro-environment, anti-development message, Hiaasen returns to familiar turf for his first novel for young readers," wrote PW. "Several suspenseful scenes, along with dollops of humor, help make this quite a hoot indeed." Ages 10-up. (May) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2002 August
Gr 6-9-Packed with quirky characters and improbable plot twists, Hiaasen's first novel for young readers is entertaining but ultimately not very memorable. Fans of the author's adult novels will find trademark elements-including environmental destruction, corrupt politicians, humorous situations, and a Florida setting-all viewed through the eyes of a middle-school student. Roy Eberhardt has just moved with his family to Coconut Cove. He immediately becomes the target of a particularly dense bully who tries to strangle him on the school bus. Roy seems more concerned, however, with discovering the identity of a running, barefoot boy he spots through the window of the bus. Meanwhile, plans to build a pancake house on a vacant lot are derailed when someone vandalizes the construction site. The two story lines come together when Roy discovers that the runaway boy is disrupting the construction to save a group of burrowing owls. Roy must help his new friend, nicknamed Mullet Fingers, as well as fend off the bully and adapt to life in Florida. The story is silly at times but rarely laugh-out-loud funny, and there are several highly unlikely scenes. Also, it wraps up a little too neatly-Roy's classmates join him to protest the construction project, his father finds the missing environmental impact report, and the owls are saved. While Roy is a sympathetic protagonist, few of the other characters are well developed. Students looking for humorous, offbeat characters and situations will probably prefer Louis Sachar's Holes (Farrar, 1998) or books by Daniel Pinkwater.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2002 October
Roy Eberhardt has just transferred to Trace Middle School in Coconut Grove, Florida, after having lived all over the country because of frequent relocations through his father's government job. This new state has some surprises in store, it seems, when on his first school bus ride, Roy is intrigued by the sight of a barefoot truant about his own age. Roy later follows the ragged boy into a small undeveloped patch of wild Florida. Soon Roy teams up with an eco-saboteur known only as "Mullet Fingers"; imposing classmate Beatrice, who is so tough that even the bullies and football players find her frightening; and a former Miss America runner-up, who is soon to be the leading lady in Mutant Invaders from Jupiter Seven. The unlikely team tries to prevent the homes of several breeding pairs of rare owls from being bulldozed to make way for a new Mother Paul's All-American Pancake House. Hiaasen's debut novel for young adults describes the same wild south Florida scene covered in his award-winning Miami Herald columns and best-selling adult fiction. The region's rich natural splendors, the amazing follies of its increasing human population, and the irresistible opportunities for graft and corruption attendant upon development are elements of his wickedly irreverent prose. Hiaasen is particularly famed for the creative and ironic ways in which his colorful villains are undone. While enjoying the humor and satire of this entertaining and well-told story, readers are left in no doubt that the author is angered by the environmental destruction caused by reckless greed. Hiassen shows how ordinary citizens, even middle schoolers who give a hoot, can protect bits of the vanishing wild environment.-Walter Hogan. 4Q 4P M J S Copyright 2002 Voya Reviews