The Barnes & Noble Review
Carl Hiaasen, bestselling author of Basket Case and other hilarious Floridian capers, serves up a high-spirited fight for the environment in his first work aimed at younger audiences.
The site of Coconut Cove's future Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House is experiencing a slight problem: survey stakes removed, alligators in the port-a-potties, and painted-over patrol cars. But who's behind the clever vandalism and pranks? New Florida resident Roy Eberhardt isn't aware of these goings-on, but he has often noticed a barefoot boy running down the street faster than anything. His curiosity piqued, Roy starts to inquire around and even follows the boy once, only to be told by Beatrice Leep, a.k.a. Beatrice the Bear, to mind his own business. Despite Beatrice's warning and plenty of bullying from the lunkheaded Dana Matherson, Roy follows the boy, whose name is Mullet Fingers, one day and winds up in the middle of an ecological mission to save a parliament of burrowing owls from being bulldozed.
Full of colorful, well-developed characters, Hoot is a quick-witted adventure that will keep readers hooked. With down-to-earth Roy, dumbfounded Officer Delinko, and construction site manager Curly -- along with other head-shaking morons and uplifting heroes -- the author delivers an appealing cast of characters that keep the plot twisting and turning until the highly charged ending. Another zany trip to the Sunshine State for Hiaasen fans, this rewarding ecological adventure should keep readers young and old hooting with laughter. Matt Warner
"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.
Roy Eberhardt's most recent move has taken him from the mountains of Montana to the flatlands of Florida. "Disney World is an armpit," he states unhappily, "compared to Montana." On the first day of school, he meets Dana Matherson... rather he meets Dana's fist during a bus ride brawl. While pressed against the school bus window, Roy spots a running boy. This boy is carrying no backpack, and oddly enough, is wearing no shoes! Desperate to find some action in Florida, Roy trails the barefoot runner. As a friendship with the mysterious boy develops, Roy becomes involved in an attempt to save a colony of burrowing owls from the construction of the new "Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House." In his telling of Roy's story, popular author Carl Hiassen creates a character who is not only believable, but extremely likeable. The story is told in a way that gives the reader insight into Roy's thoughts, actions, and rationale. Hiassen captures our interest as he manages to show how young Roy can be obedient, caring, and unconventional — all at the same time. 2002, Alfred A. Knopf, 292 pp., Webster
Hiaasen, a columnist for the Miami Herald and the author of many best-selling novels for adults about the wild and wacky side of the state of Florida, offers a hoot of a read here in his first novel for YAs. Roy is the new kid in town, a student at Trace Middle School in Coconut Cove. From the school bus window, as a bully is harassing him, Roy spots a barefoot boy his age running by, and he becomes intrigued. Roy follows the boy, and gradually learns that he is involved in trying to protect the nesting site of some rare burrowing owls. This site is currently an empty lot that is about to be turned into a pancake house by a corporate executive called Chuck Muckle, with the assistance of a bald foreman called Curly. Adventures and misadventures ensue—alligators pop up in portable potties and a tough girl takes a bite out of Roy's bike tire—before Roy works out a way to get revenge on the bully and help the barefoot boy save the owls. My 14-year-old daughter read this and liked it, calling it "clever and funny" and commenting "it was interesting how the plots came together." Hiaasen's trademark over-the-top humor and satire, along with his concern for safeguarding Florida's wildlife, come through clearly and will entertain readers. Here's hoping he continues to write for YAs. Recommended for junior high school students.
Paula Rohrlick; KLIATT
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.
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. 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.”—Booklist
“A wonderful tour-de-force.”—The Boston Globe
“A rollicking, righteous story.”—The Miami Herald
“You don’t have to be a young adult to enjoy it.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Yes, it is a hoot.”—The Washington Post Book World