Cover of Hoot
|Publisher||Alfred A. Knopf|
Hoot is a 2002 young-adult novel by Carl Hiaasen. The story takes place in Florida, where new arrival Roy makes a bad enemy and two oddball friends, 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.
Roy Eberhardt just moved to Florida in the town Coconut Cove, and is being bullied by Dana Matherson. One day on the bus, Roy sees a boy running away from the bus barefoot. He tries to get off the bus, but his bully Dana grabs him by the throat. Roy gets free by breaking Dana's nose, but cannot catch the running boy and is hit in the head with a golf ball. Roy was sent to the vice-principal's office and the vice-principal suspends Roy from the bus for two weeks and tells him to write an apology letter to Dana. He tries to call a truce with Dana, but Dana refuses.
Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House Corporation intends to build a pancake house in Coconut Cove. The bulldozers have already been parked on the construction site, but work is delayed over and over again because of bizarre but effective acts of vandalism that occur in the night. Roy learns this is the work of the running boy he only knows as "Mullet Fingers", whom he befriends (his step-sister happens to be Beatrice Leep). His motives for the vandalism are honorable; Mullet Fingers wants to save the endangered burrowing owls that live on the site from being killed when the bulldozing begins.
The construction foreman on the site denies the existence of the owls. Roy attempts to help Mullet Fingers prove the owls are on the site, including loaning him a digital camera. In his current events presentation, Roy tells his history class about the owls and how the pancake company will bury them, and encourages them to join him in protesting at the ground breaking the next day.
Roy and Beatrice and other students attend the ground breaking, where they expose the company's greed and dishonesty to the entire town. The young people succeed in exposing the illegal acts of those in power, including illegally removing an environmental impact statement from the official file. They save the birds and their habitat. The president of Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House blames former employees and promises to preserve the property as an owl sanctuary.
Mullet Fingers, in an effort to escape his vile family situation, climbs out of a bathroom window and is accidentally mistaken for a burglar. When Mullet Fingers' mother spitefully tells the police that he stole a ring from her, he is sent to the same juvenile detention center as Dana. Mullet Fingers escapes the jail using Dana as a distraction. At the end, Roy discovers that Mullet Finger’s real name is Napoleon Bridger.
- Roy Andrew Eberhardt - the new kid at Trace Middle School, who quickly makes an enemy of the school bully, Dana Matherson, and makes two unusual friends, Beatrice Leep and her truant brother "Mullet Fingers."
- Beatrice Leep - "a tall girl with curly blond hair and red-framed glasses." She is described as sinewy and tomboyish, and is a member of the soccer team. At Trace Middle School, she's known as "Beatrice The Bear" (except by Roy).
- Napoleon Bridger/"Mullet Fingers" - Beatrice's step brother, 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.
- Officer David Delinko - an 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 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 - 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 and is a big bully just like him, and his father seems to try to discipline him.
- 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.
- 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 the school counselor.
- Ms. Viola Hennepin - the vice-principal of 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; later it 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, growing up, corruption, parental love, environmentalism and integrity. The character goes through different adventures to get here.
A film adaptation of the book was released in May 2006, starring Logan Lerman, Brie Larson, and Cody Linley. 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". 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". Retrieved 30 October 2010.
- Hiaasen, Carl. Hoot. Yearling: New York, 2002. ISBN 0-440-41939-5