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Bill Ott (Booklist, Oct. 15, 2002 (Vol. 99, No. 4))
It seems unlikely that the master of noir-tinged, surrealistic black humor would write a novel for young readers. And, yet, there has always been something delightfully juvenile about Hiaasen's imagination; beneath the bent cynicism lurks a distinctly 12-year-old cackle. In this thoroughly engaging tale of how middle-schooler Roy Eberhardt, new kid in Coconut Cove, learns to love South Florida, Hiaasen lets his inner kid run rampant, both the subversive side that loves to see grown-ups make fools of themselves and the righteously indignant side, appalled at the mess being made of our planet. When Roy teams up with some classic children's lit outsiders to save the home of some tiny burrowing owls, the stage is set for a confrontation between right-thinking kids and slow-witted, wrongheaded civic boosters. But Hiaasen never lets the formula get in his way; the story is full of offbeat humor, buffoonish yet charming supporting characters, and genuinely touching scenes of children enjoying the wildness of nature. He deserves a warm welcome into children's publishing. Category: Books for Middle Readers--Fiction. 2002, Knopf, $15.95. Gr. 5-8.
Susie Wilde (Children's Literature)
Carl Hiaasen masters the genre best in his literary romp, Hoot. Children will relate to his hero, Roy Eberhardt. Roy, new to Florida and middle school, runs into a nasty bully the first time he takes the school bus. He has moved a lot and is used to these situations, so he stares out the window and dreams of his Montana past. Then, he sees a mysterious figure--a boy running barefoot with such speed and agility, Roy is fascinated and decides he must find out about this strange child. Hiaasen plays another successful kid-card when he sets up this mystery. The child is Mullet Hands, a young outlaw who can catch fish in his bare hands, escape bumbling law officials, and won't tell anyone his name. Mullet Hands is determined to protect owls endangered by the construction of a Mother Paula's Pancake House. Hiaasen most definitely has a message. But it is integral to the way Roy grows and changes, and mystery definitely comes before moral. Hiassen has kid-speak right. He sees humor easily and knows about bullies. And what child wouldn't love a book where the mysterious underdog places alligators in the bad guys' porta-potty? Hiassen succeeds so well, he should give his colleagues a little free advice. His fellow authors don't need much, just a reminder to follow the rules that have given them recognition. After all, they probably wouldn't put up with much. Adults like lecturing even less than young adults. 2002, Knopf, $15.98. Ages 9 up.
Maria Salvadore (Children's Literature)
Roy Eberhart is again the new kid, this time at Trace Middle School in Coconut Cove, Florida. It is very different from the Montana home that Roy loved, but his father's job causes the family to move often. In fact, this is Roy's sixth school since he started and his tenth town since he could remember. Sly humor is the hallmark of this fast-paced novel. The southwest Florida setting is complete with heat, humidity, pop-up thunderstorms, alligators and small burrowing owls that may be devastated by the construction of a new Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House. Roy, with the tacit and active support of his parents, ultimately overcomes apathy, greedy politicians, and a menacing pancake executive to save the owls. Along the way he overcomes his tormenter, solves the mystery of the mysterious boy, and establishes himself in his new school. The episodic plot provides a vehicle to allow readers to meet and come to know a wide range of quirky, memorable, consistently well developed characters that include Dana, the not-too-bright bully who torments Roy; ambitious Officer Delinko trying to solve the mysterious goings-on at the construction site; and soccer playing Beatrice Leep and her baffling brother. Even the title is sly, as the novel is a "hoot" in more ways than one and will be enjoyed on several levels. 2002, Knopf/Random House, $15.95. Ages 11 to 14.
CCBC (Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices, 2003)
Best-selling author for adults Carl Hiaasen has taken his distinctive over-the-top portrayal of south Florida's petty criminal low-life to a new and younger audience. Hiassen strikes just the right tone in this story of middle-schoolers fighting big business to preserve a habitat for burrowing owls. The construction site for a new Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House appears to be just another vacant lot, but a renegade adolescent known as Mullet Fingers recognizes that the area harbors underground dens for burrowing owls, which will be destroyed by development. He single-handedly attempts to sabotage the site by pulling up survey stakes, putting alligators in the port-a-potties, and letting loose a posse of cottonmouth snakes (albeit with their mouths taped shut) to delay work. He's joined in his crusade by a recent newcomer to Florida, a lonely teenager named Roy, and Mullet Finger's no-nonsense, soccer-playing sister Beatrice. Together they conspire to protect the owls, both by creatively disrupting construction and by raising awareness of Mother Paula's under-handed attempt to bypass a required Environmental Impact Study. Although Mullet Finger's acts of vandalism are illegal, his intentions are undeniably sterling, and readers cannot help but cheer him on. The kids are clever, the dialogue is witty, and almost all of the adults (with the notable exception of Chuck Muckle, Mother Paula's sleazy company V.P.) turn out to have at least one redeeming quality. Chuck Muckle and a few minor local officials are unmasked as money-grubbing villains, and the owls are saved, in a humorous and satisfying conclusion. CCBC categories: Fiction For Children; Fiction For Young Adults; Issues In Today's World. 2002, Alfred A. Knopf, 292 pages, $15.95. Ages 11-15.
Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2002 (Vol. 70, No. 14))
The straight-arrow son of a maybe-federal agent (he's not quite sure) turns eco-terrorist in this first offering for kids from one of detective fiction's funniest novelists. Fans of Hiaasen's (Basket Case, 2001, etc.) novels for adults may wonder how well his profane and frequently kinky writing will adapt to a child's audience; the answer is, remarkably well. Roy Eberhardt has recently arrived in Florida; accustomed to being the new kid after several family moves, he is more of an observer than a participant. When he observes a bare-footed boy running through the subdivisions of Coconut Grove, however, he finds himself compelled to follow and, later, to ally himself with the strange boy called Mullet Fingers. Meanwhile, the dimwitted but appealingly dogged Officer Delinko finds himself compelled to crack the case of the mysterious vandals at the construction site of a new Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House-it couldn't have anything to do with those cute burrowing owls, could it? The plot doesn't overwhelm with surprises; even the densest readers will soon suss out the connections between Mullet Fingers, the owls, and Mother Paula's steadfast denial of the owls' existence. The fun lies in Hiaasen's trademark twisted characters, including Dana Matherson, the class bully who regularly beats up on Roy and whose unwitting help Roy wickedly enlists; Beatrice Leep, Mullet Fingers's fiercely loyal sister and co-conspirator; Curly, Mother Paula's hilariously inept foreman; and Roy's equally straight-arrow parents, who encourage him to do the right thing without exactly telling him how. Roy is rather surprisingly engaging, given his utter and somewhat unnatural wholesomeness; it's his kind of determined innocence that sees through the corruption and compromises of the adult world to understand what must be done to make things right. If the ending is somewhat predictable, it is also entirely satisfying-Hoot is, indeed, a hoot. 2002, Knopf, $15.95. Category: Fiction. Ages 10 to 14. © 2002 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
Paula Rohrlick (KLIATT Review, September 2002 (Vol. 36, No. 5))
Hiaasen, a columnist for the Miami Herald and the author of many best-selling novels for adults about the wild and wacky side of the state of Florida, offers a hoot of a read here in his first novel for YAs. Roy is the new kid in town, a student at Trace Middle School in Coconut Cove. From the school bus window, as a bully is harassing him, Roy spots a barefoot boy his age running by, and he becomes intrigued. Roy follows the boy, and gradually learns that he is involved in trying to protect the nesting site of some rare burrowing owls. This site is currently an empty lot that is about to be turned into a pancake house by a corporate executive called Chuck Muckle, with the assistance of a bald foreman called Curly. Adventures and misadventures ensue--alligators pop up in portable potties and a tough girl takes a bite out of Roy's bike tire--before Roy works out a way to get revenge on the bully and help the barefoot boy save the owls. My 14-year-old daughter read this and liked it, calling it "clever and funny" and commenting "it was interesting how the plots came together." Hiaasen's trademark over-the-top humor and satire, along with his concern for safeguarding Florida's wildlife, come through clearly and will entertain readers. Here's hoping he continues to write for YAs. Category: Hardcover Fiction. KLIATT Codes: J--Recommended for junior high school students. 2002, Random House/Knopf, 304p., $17.99. Ages 12 to 15.
Vicki Arkoff (Midwest Book Review, "Vicki's Bookshelf" column, November 2002)
Novelist Carl Hiaasen's most devoted adult fans might get a little hoot out of "Hoot," but it just doesn't have a lot of kid-appeal for the pre-teen market for which his first book for young people was intended. Could it be that the author of such tongue-in-cheek adult novels as "Sick Puppy" and "Basket Case" simply doesn't understand effective kids lit? The book's prose is condescendingly stiff and simplistic, sometimes even appearing to follow the format of such out-of-date models as "The Hardy Boys." As a mystery, "Hoot" just doesn't fly, as kids will easily figured out the plot in the first few chapters. Hiaasen's choice of a pro-ecological theme is strong, and his protagonist is pleasant enough, though overly familiar. At a Florida middle school, Roy Eberhardt is the self-conscious new kid who has to deal with a bully. Roy is befriended by a couple of outcasts when he becomes embroiled in a minor mystery involving mischievous sabotage of a proposed construction site. Despite several chapters lining up a mysterious series of events, it's apparent from the start that the goings-on are to save the endangered owls that burrow there, pitting the do-gooder kids against bumbling capitalist adults. After a dull first half, the plot eventually starts to escalate into a topsy-turvy ride with additional quirky touches. But ultimately the thin story fails to retain the interest of his readers. Each time things start to get interesting, Hiaasen applies the brakes, regularly abandoning the kids' POV in favor of doggedly focusing on several adult characters -- a basic genre no-no if you want kids to, well, give a hoot. 2002, Knopf / Random House, 292 pages, $15.95.
Maria Salvadore (Parents Guide, Fall 2002 (Vol. 5, No. 1))
When Roy's family moves to their new home in southwe s t Florida, Roy meets an amazing array of people and winds up helping save small burrowing owls endangered by proposed construction. With sly humor, setting and characters become vivid in this memorable novel. 2002, Knopf, $15.95. Ages 9 to 12.
Lindsey L. Webster (The ALAN Review, Spring/Summer 2003 (Vol. 30, No. 3))
Roy Eberhardt's most recent move has taken him from the mountains of Montana to the flatlands of Florida. "Disney World is an armpit," he states unhappily, "compared to Montana." On the first day of school, he meets Dana Matherson... rather he meets Dana's fist during a bus ride brawl. While pressed against the school bus window, Roy spots a running boy. This boy is carrying no backpack, and oddly enough, is wearing no shoes! Desperate to find some action in Florida, Roy trails the barefoot runner. As a friendship with the mysterious boy develops, Roy becomes involved in an attempt to save a colony of burrowing owls from the construction of the new "Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House." In his telling of Roy's story, popular author Carl Hiassen creates a character who is not only believable, but extremely likeable. The story is told in a way that gives the reader insight into Roy's thoughts, actions, and rationale. Hiassen captures our interest as he manages to show how young Roy can be obedient, caring, and unconventional -- all at the same time. Category: Realistic Fiction/Adventure. YA--Young Adult. 2002, Alfred A. Knopf, 292 pp., $15.95. Ages young adult.Wheaton, IL
Deborah Stevenson (The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, November 2002 (Vol. 56, No. 3))
Roy’s quiet life quickly somersaults out of control: one day he’s a reluctant new Floridian, then suddenly he’s the target of bully Dana Matherson, reluctant ally of tough soccer-player Beatrice Leep, defender of Beatrice’s snake-handling runaway stepbrother, sometimes intentional confounder of the local police, and a protector of burrowing owls (threatened by the planned building of a Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House on their nesting site). The pedigree of this transition is, as you might expect, complicated, but it’s also elaborately enjoyable, as mild-mannered middle-schooler Roy increasingly becomes a participant in the quirky world he’s found himself submerged in. At the same time, the book effectively twists together what initially appears to be two plot strands, Roy’s experiences and the repeated vandalism of a building site, as it becomes clear that it’s Beatrice’s stepbrother performing the vandalism in defense of the endangered owls, a defense that gradually draws in not only Roy but his parents, Beatrice’s soccer team, and Mother Paula herself. The darker undertones (such as Beatrice’s stepbrother’s rejection by his mother) add weight and sharpness to the story without undermining its considerable humor, and they’re balanced by a goodly helping of benevolence, especially in the characters of Roy’s parents, who break from literary convention by being smart, understanding, and supportive; the final building-site showdown may be more predictable than the book’s offbeat opening, but it’s a satisfying conclusion. This has a lighter touch than Bloor’s Tangerine (BCCB 3/97) and a more traditional approach than Sachar’s Holes (9/98), but the solid, humorous writing and modestly bizarre world will please fans of both titles. Review Code: R -- Recommended. (c) Copyright 2002, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 2002, Knopf, 292p, $17.99 and $15.95. Grades 6-9.
Melissa Johnson (The Lorgnette - Heart of Texas Reviews (Vol. 15, No. 3))
Roy knows the "new kid" drill. Trace Middle School is the sixth school he's been to in six years. He has being the new kid down to a science--lay low and stay out of trouble. But after seeing the running boy, Roy thinks that maybe this town will be different. Any town that has a boy running away from the school bus with no shoes and no backpack has to be interesting. After following the running boy, confronting a girl named Beatrice, and dealing with Dana, the school bully, Roy's life is definitely more interesting and more meaningful than anywhere he has been. He also learns to take a stand for what he believes, not only in school, but also in the community. Hiaasen manages to masterfully combine wit, humanism, and environmentalism and make it intriguing even for a reluctant middle school reader. The fast-paced action and the realistic school interactions are refreshing and will delight readers of any age. This book is highly recommended for all libraries. Fiction, Highly Recommended. Grades 5-8. 2002, Knopf, 292p., $15.95. Ages 10 to 14.
Walter Hogan (VOYA, October 2002 (Vol. 25, No. 4))
Roy Eberhardt has just transferred to Trace Middle School in Coconut Grove, Florida, after having lived all over the country because of frequent relocations through his father's government job. This new state has some surprises in store, it seems, when on his first school bus ride, Roy is intrigued by the sight of a barefoot truant about his own age. Roy later follows the ragged boy into a small undeveloped patch of wild Florida. Soon Roy teams up with an eco-saboteur known only as "Mullet Fingers"; imposing classmate Beatrice, who is so tough that even the bullies and football players find her frightening; and a former Miss America runner-up, who is soon to be the leading lady in Mutant Invaders from Jupiter Seven. The unlikely team tries to prevent the homes of several breeding pairs of rare owls from being bulldozed to make way for a new Mother Paul's All-American Pancake House. Hiaasen's debut novel for young adults describes the same wild south Florida scene covered in his award-winning Miami Herald columns and best-selling adult fiction. The region's rich natural splendors, the amazing follies of its increasing human population, and the irresistible opportunities for graft and corruption attendant upon development are elements of his wickedly irreverent prose. Hiaasen is particularly famed for the creative and ironic ways in which his colorful villains are undone. While enjoying the humor and satire of this entertaining and well-told story, readers are left in no doubt that the author is angered by the environmental destruction caused by reckless greed. Hiassen shows how ordinary citizens, even middle schoolers who give a hoot, can protect bits of the vanishing wild environment. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2002, Knopf, 272p, $15.95. Ages 11 to 18.
|Language||Call Number||LCCN||Dewey Decimal||ISBN/ISSN|
|English (eng)||PZ7.H493 Ho 2002
0375921818 (lib. bdg.)