Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Hoot Book Poster Image
Popular with kids
Award-winning tale has environmental theme.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 10 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 111 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

Hoot is an ecological mystery that advocates the preservation of America's wildlife.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Most of the adults are stupid, venal, and self-serving, but Roy's parents stand out as caring, concerned, intelligent, and ultimately supportive. The plucky kid heroes cut school, lie, run away from home, and vandalize a construction site for a good cause: saving the owls. 




Several fights, a broken nose, a gun, a gory snowmobile accident, some domestic violence.


A few mild curses.


A few brand names mentioned: Reeboks, IHOP, etc.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A delinquent teen smokes.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Carl Hiassen's Hoot was selected as a Newbery Honor Book for 2003. There's some mild violence and swearing here, and adults are mostly portrayed negatively. The kid heroes sometimes lie and cut school for a good cause: saving rare and endangered burrowing owls. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMrsS08 November 19, 2019

No good adult role models, among other things...

The recommendation of 10 years old and up seems a little young to me, honestly. Out of the three main families discussed, domestic violence is definitely going... Continue reading
Parent of a 9 and 12-year-old Written byjpolizo January 19, 2015

Great book

My 10 year old is a very challenged reader, currently being evaluated for dyslexia. Getting him to read has been difficult but he heard this as an audio book a... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byspider monkey April 7, 2011
The book hoot by Carl Hiaasen is fantastic. It is about a boy,Roy, who comes to a new town and is expecting to find no friends. To his surprise one day he sees... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byatmb June 20, 2016

Don't give a HOOT

This book was really bad. Unreadably bad. It used every cliche ever thought of. The whole point of it was stupid. The writing was weak. The characters were unre... Continue reading

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 land 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, seem to make him more dangerous.

Is it any good?

Carl Hiaasen's first novel for children has many likable characters, and Roy's parents stand out as caring, concerned, intelligent, and ultimately supportive. HOOT features lots of stupid and venal adults, cute animals, a kid hero on his own, a tough girl with heart of gold, a mean bully, fart jokes, and an evil corporation. Stupid adults are won over by cute animals and plucky kid heroes.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • 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 behave to protect the owls? 

  • You might want to watch the movie version of Hoot and compare and contrast the two.

  • Which version do you like better? What would you have done differently?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love animals and green themes

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate