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

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 110 reviews

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 byAndrea51526 April 9, 2008
Parent Written byPlague January 8, 2010


My kid wanted me to read this book, so I did. And I have to say, its pretty well written, and I actually enjoyed it.
Kid, 11 years old January 31, 2011
I think that the book hoot is telling you that you shouldn't kill nature or people will find out and do something to you
Kid, 12 years old March 25, 2011

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

For kids who love animals and green themes

Our editors recommend

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