Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen – The Newbery Project


Hoot, by Carl Hiaasen

I thought from the beginning that T should read this book. When the main character pulled out a copy of A Land Remembered, I was certain.

For those of you who are not from Florida, A Land Remembered  is a fictional telling of a Florida family’s lives over a period of 100 years or so. As T puts it “a lot of people die.” A parent of a student in his 4th grade class read it aloud to the class over the course of the school year. At the end of the year, the class party had an Olde Florida theme, including square-dancing (a time-honored way of embarrassing older elementary school kids). I read it in about two days, so I could go to the party and not be the only one who had no idea what was going on.

Admittedly, the moment when Roy pulls out his copy of A Land Remembered and ponders the loss of natural Florida is a little bit of a teachy moment in an otherwise un-teachy save-the-environment book. And yet, that was the moment I spontaneously pulled right into the Barnes & Noble parking lot and bought T’s copy. (Yes, I was listening to it on audiobook. No, I don’t read and drive. Or text and drive. Or do any other hazardous thing  when driving except eating french fries and a Frosty, which is more messy than hazardous…)

The summary (from Carl Hiassen’s website):

Roy Eberhardt is the new kid–again. This time around it’s Trace Middle School in humid Coconut Grove, Florida. But it’s still the same old routine: table by himself at lunch, no real friends, and thick-headed bullies like Dana Matherson pushing him around. But if it wasn’t for Dana Matherson mashing his face against the school bus window that one day, he might never have seen the tow-headed running boy. And if he had never seen the running boy, he might never have met tall, tough, bully-beating Beatrice. And if he had never met Beatrice, he might never have discovered the burrowing owls living in the lot on the corner of East Oriole Avenue. And if he had never discovered the owls, he probably would have missed out on the adventure of a lifetime.

By the way, T — who tries to avoid reading all books over 75 pages — loved this one. Now he’s got me looking for the movie, which unfortunately garnered only 26% on rottentomatoes.com. I hate it when a great book has a bad movie (think The Golden Compass, for starters — one of the best books EVER. But the movie? 42% Sad.)

So go check out the Burrowing Owl. I have to agree with Roy on this one. I’d much rather have a couple of those little guys in my neighborhood than a Mother Paula’s Pancake house.

Hoot, by Carl HiaasenAudiobook narrated by Chad Lowe

Newbery Honor – 2003

AR Level: 5.2; Middle Grades

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