What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there is some mild violence and swearing here, and that, while the adults are mostly portrayed negatively, the heroes don't always behave honestly either.
What's the story?
Roy is the new kid in school, and is already being picked on by the school bully, Dana. But one day, while having his face mashed against the bus window, he sees a mysterious barefoot boy running away from the bus and school. Roy tracks him down and discovers, among other things that the boy, who calls himself Mullet Fingers, is committing acts of vandalism against a construction site where they plan to build a pancake restaurant on a site where rare and endangered burrowing owls are nesting.
Meanwhile, in dealing with Dana, Roy finds that getting the better of him only seems to make him more dangerous. Fortunately he finds an ally in Beatrice, Mullet Finger's stepsister, who's even tougher than Dana. And Mullet's pranks, rather than discouraging the foreman of the construction crew, seems to be making him more dangerous as well.
Is it any good?
It's harder to write great children's literature than you might think. Carl Hiaasen may be a superb adult author, but in his first foray into children's books, he's pretty much painting by numbers. Let's see ... lots of stupid and venal adults, check. Cute animals, check. Kid hero on his own, tough girl with heart of gold, check, check. Mean bully, check. Fart jokes, check. Evil corporation, check. Stupid adults won over by cute animals and plucky kid heroes, check. Yup, it's all here. So why doesn't it add up to more?
Despite all that, and an ending that will be a little too Huck Finn for some readers' tastes, HOOT is a modestly involving story with likable enough characters, and it occasionally manages the stirring of an emotion of two. Parents will also appreciate that, among all the usual bumbling and venal adults, Roy's parents stand out as caring, concerned, intelligent, and ultimately supportive. In another example of the Newbery Committee's unfathomable criteria, Hoot was selected as an Honor Book for 2003.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about the issues raised here concerning the conflict between environmental and economic concerns. How should we balance our human needs with those of the natural world?
What do you think about the ways in which the characters behaved in
order to protect the owls? Was it realistic?
What would you have done?
Families who also see the movie may want to compare and contrast the
Which version do you like better? What would you have done