Book review by Kat Halstead, Common Sense Media
Hoot Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 10+

Award-winning tale has environmentalism; mature themes.

Parents say

age 10+

Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 10+

Based on 115 reviews

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A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 12+

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 on in one of them and hinted at in another. The fact that it’s not even addressed, simply a detail in the story is troubling. Domestic violence isn’t something we should be normalizing for our young readers. The parents in the third family seem to be decent parents although they’re pretty clueless as to what their son, Roy, is up to. When the mom does try to give him advice she tells him, “Your heart will tell you to do one thing, and your brain will tell you to do something different. In the end, all that’s left is to look at both sides and go with your best judgement.” She’s basically just telling him to do what he thinks is best. Doesn’t mention that he can always come to her or his dad for guidance, doesn’t tell him to ask other safe adults who might be able to help, etc. That’s a terrible impression to leave on kids who already are in a stage of life where they’re craving independence. Of course they have to start making their own decisions based on what they think is best, but even as adults it’s wise at times to go to others for guidance. The cops in the story seem incompetent and the captain is clearly more interested in his own position and reputation than he is with justice. He doesn’t seem to care that there is evidence that they may have arrested the wrong kid, he’s more than happy to lock him up because he’s got a record already just so he doesn’t look bad. What impression is a child of 10 going to be left with? Perhaps that cops aren’t really the good guys that people make them out to be, that they aren’t actually capable of up holding the law. The kids lying to their parents and other adults is a repeated theme throughout the book which is also never addressed. When Roy is bullied initially he ends up being the one to receive a punishment for defending himself. The school staff don’t seem interested in what actually happened or in protecting their students apparently, as they apparently let the actual bullies go without a word. Again the message here...? Don’t try going to the school for help if you’re being bullied, you’ll just end up in trouble. This book has potential to be a great read for my kids, but I was consistently disappointed in the way certain situations were written. If you want to write for kids about big, difficult issues you can’t just leave them with the impression that the adults in their lives are inept and incapable of helping. It’s completely irresponsible. I don’t care what awards this book has won, it is not one my children will be reading. (I haven’t even addressed the barefooted boy who apparently was better off living on the streets alone than to call CPS to intervene in his family who was definitely experiencing domestic violence. I could say more but I’ve already nearly written a book... maybe I should.)

This title has:

Too much violence
age 10+

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 and absolutely fell in love with it. I have never seen him so excited about a book. He likes helping animals and this appealed to him; he also enjoyed the humor and kid-to-kid interactions. He has since also heard the audio book of Chomp and also loved that. Hiaasen has been a dream come true in showing my son that books can be entertaining and fun

This title has:

Great messages

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