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Hoot is a 2002 mystery/suspense novel, recommended for ages 9-12, by Carl Hiaasen. The setting takes place in Florida, where new arrival Roy makes two oddball friends and a bad enemy, and joins an effort to stop construction of a pancake house which would destroy a colony of burrowing owls who live on the site. The book won a Newbery Honor award in 2003.
Cover of Hoot
|Published||2002 Alfred A. Knopf|
The main character Roy Eberhardt moves from Montana to Florida and into the town of Coconut Cove, where a 7th grader, Dana Matherson, starts to bully him. On the bus to school, Roy sees a boy running barefoot outside. Roy tries to leave the bus, but Dana viciously chokes and strangles him. He escapes after punching Dana in the face, breaking his nose, and then exiting the bus. But Roy can't catch the running boy because a golf ball hits Roy in the head. Vice-Principal Viola Hennepin suspends him from the bus for two weeks and orders Roy to write an apology to Dana. Roy calls for a truce, but Dana refuses to accept.
A restaurant called Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House decides to build a franchise in Coconut Cove, but vandalism delays the work. Roy learns the running boy is the vandal known as "Mullet Fingers" and they become friends. Mullet Fingers vandalizes and delays construction overseen by Chuck Muckle to save the endangered burrowing owls that live on the site.
The construction foreman Leroy "Curly" Branitt denies the owls' existence. Roy helps Mullet Fingers prove otherwise and tells his class including Beatrice Leap about the owls, how construction will kill the endangered species, and encourages them to join him in protests.
Roy and his classmates attend the ground breaking and expose the truth. This includes the company's illegal removal of an environmental impact statement from their files. This revelation saves the owls and their habitat. Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House blames former employees and promises to preserve the property as an owl sanctuary. Muckle is sent to anger management for attacking a reporter. Dana is later arrested and sentenced to a detention camp. Mullet Fingers's mother sees him protesting with Roy and his classmates and goes in front of all the cameras and attempts to hog all the attention.
Two days later, Mullet Fingers climbs out his home's bathroom window and is mistaken for a burglar. Mullet Fingers's mother lies to the police and says he stole a very valuable toe ring. They believe her and he's sent to a juvenile detention center where he escapes. In the last chapter, Roy discovers that Mullet Fingers's real name is Napoleon Bridger Leep.
- Roy Andrew Eberhardt – The new kid at Trace Middle School and the main protagonist, who quickly makes an enemy of the school bully, Dana Matherson, and makes two unusual friends, Beatrice Leep and her truant step-brother "Mullet Fingers".
- Beatrice Leep – "A tall girl with curly blond hair and red-framed glasses." She is described as sinewy, tomboyish and aggressive, and is a member of the soccer team. At Trace Middle School, she's known as "Beatrice The Bear."
- "Mullet Fingers"/Napoleon Bridger – Beatrice's stepbrother, initially known to Roy as the mysterious barefoot kid. His name is not given until the final chapter; the nickname "Mullet Fingers" refers to his ability to catch a mullet with his bare hands. He has a bad relationship with his mother who had sent him to military school. Napoleon usually runs away from his family to live on his own.
- Officer David Delinko – A police officer in the Coconut Cove Police Department who is investigating the vandalism at the Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House construction site. Dutiful and ambitious, he develops sympathy for the owls and aids the kids.
- Leroy "Curly" Branitt – The construction foreman on the Mother Paula's Pancake House construction site, where all of the mysterious vandalism happens. Officer Delinko notes the irony of his nickname, as he is "bald as a beach ball". He is also "cranky," "unsmiling," and suspicious of everyone.
- Dana Matherson – A boy who torments underclassmen as the typical bully. Just like other bullies, he is an antagonist who finds inflicting pain on others quite pleasurable. His mother fights with him and is a big bully just like him while his father seems to try to discipline him. He was hit in the nose by Roy in an earlier chapter and doesn't forget it.
- Mr. and Mrs. Eberhardt – Roy's parents. They are sensible and supportive. Mr. Eberhardt works in the federal Department of Justice, and helps Roy by checking Mother Paula's building permits. Mrs. Eberhardt likes yoga and is protective of Roy.
- Chuck E. Muckle – The "vice president of Corporate Relations" at Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House, and the novel's primary antagonist. He is portrayed as an arrogant, manipulative, ruthless, and corrupt executive, who pretends owls do not live on the site so he can bulldoze over their homes.
- Leon and Lonna Leep – Contrast in personality, Mr. Leep is Beatrice's decent but apathetic father, an ex-NBA player. He is remarried to a temperamental waitress, Lonna Leep, who wants all the attention she can get, and hates her son.
- Kimberly Lou Dixon – An actress who plays Mother Paula, the spokesperson for Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House.
- Garrett – Roy's best and only friend at Trace Middle School. A skateboarder, popular in school, the king of phony farts, and a D student. His mother is also the school counselor.
- Viola Hennepin – The vice principal at Trace Middle School. She attempts to discipline Roy on several occasions such as suspending him from the school bus for two weeks, though she knows Dana strangled him. She is described as having one long jet-black hair protruding out of her upper lip; which later mysteriously becomes blonde.
Carl Hiaasen started writing children's books when he realized that the other novels that he had written were too adult for his nieces and nephews. In writing his first young adult novel, Hiaasen faced some challenges: "The biggest challenge was trying not to subconsciously 'write down' for young readers." Hiaasen said, "When I was creating the character in Hoot, I'm sure I stole liberally from my pre-adolescence."
The themes in the novel are friendship, teamwork, growing up, corruption, parental love, kinship, environmentalism and integrity. The character goes through different adventures to get here.
A film adaptation of the book was released in May 2006, starring Luke Wilson as Officer Delinko, Logan Lerman as Roy Eberhart, Brie Larson as Beatrice Leep, Tim Blake Nelson as Leroy Brannit, Neil Flynn as Mr. Eberhart, Robert Wagner as Mayor Grandy, Cody Linley as Napoleon Leep, and Clark Gregg as Chuck Muckle while Hiaasen portrays Muckle's assistant Felix. Hiaasen and Wil Shriner, the director and script-writer, "fought long and hard to stay truthful to the book."
- "2003 Newbery Medal and Honor Books". Association for Library Service to Children. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
- Hiaasen, p. 39
- Hiaasen, p. 14
- Hiaasen, p. 4
- Hiaasen, p. 253
- Hiaasen, Carl. "Frequently Asked Questions". Archived from the original on 14 June 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
- "Study Guide:HOOT by Carl Hiaasen". TheBestNotes.com. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
- "Hoot (2006) – Movie Details – Yahoo! Movies". Yahoo! Movies. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
- Hiaasen, Carl. "Frequently Asked Questions: Movies". Archived from the original on 18 October 2010. Retrieved 30 October 2010.