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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

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. Apparently, bullies do serve a greater purpose in the scope of the universe. Because if it wasn't for Dana Matherson...…


by Carl Hiaasen

Overall Book Review:

I know very well what it’s like to be the new kid in school.  I wish I would have had Roy’s courage and presence of mind as he stood up to all the bullies and stuck to his ideals and new friendships.  The poor kid becomes the focus to two of the schools’ biggest bullies, but he takes it in stride.  It was interesting watching him stand up to Dana with the maturity of an adult as Roy continually confronts Dana face to face, asking him to leave him alone.  Then there’s Beatrice Leep: She’s another kid you don’t want to mess with!  And Roy becomes involved with her due to some very interesting circumstances!  There’s also a future pancake house, some bulldozers, and some miniature owls!  But at the center of everything there is a boy without a name.  Roy just wants to find out about the boy—but in so doing becomes embroiled in something much bigger than himself.  The question is, will Roy leave it alone and lie low, or will he stand up for something that he is beginning to believe in? 

Hoot reminded me of watching a contemporary Andy Griffith show; complete with some bumbling small-town cops, uneducated townsfolk, a mystery with some big wigs from the ‘big city’, an environmental spin, and kids who tend to take matters into their own hands!  The epilogue in this book is a riot—I do love stories that give you ‘the rest of the story’!  And the ending leaves you happy, yet slightly unsatisfied—but you know that no one will ever be the same!  This cute little story will remind us to remember to look around and be aware that there is more to life than buildings and pancakes…and that one person can make a difference!

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Yearling (A Random House Children’s Imprint)

Content Analysis:

There are many instances of crude language (‘potty’ language), as well as many references to profanity (such as, “he heard him mumbling profanity under his breath”).  There were also other more moderate four-letter words (12) scattered throughout.

There was quite a bit of mostly mild violence.  A character is constantly bullied: His face is smashed against a bus window; he is choked and there are bruises left behind; he is attacked in a closet and almost killed; he is constantly threatened and verbally abused by the bullies.  A character is punched in the nose (the nose is broken).  A character puts alligators in outhouse toilets to scare people.  A character is spanked and she retaliates by throwing the offender into a fountain and breaking his collarbone.  Poisonous snakes are placed in an area to scare other animals.  A boy is caught trying to steal and is wrestled to the ground.  A character tries to bite another character’s toe ring off their foot, and breaks a tooth.  A character threatens a crowd with a shovel.  A couple is always fighting and shouting at each other.  There are a few moderate instances of violence as well: A character is bitten by guard dogs.  A character remembers seeing a fatal snowmobile accident that is traumatic.  A character is punished for beating up another by being stripped and tied to a flagpole.  A character moons another character in order to make him angry so he’ll chase him down. 

Mature Subject Matter:

The themes in Hoot are mostly moderate.  A mother doesn’t want her child because he’s ‘difficult’, so she continually sends him to military schools and juvenile halls instead of dealing with him.  A character lives alone (a child), constantly runs away from home and school (truancy), and lives with dangerous animals.  There’s the question of acts of vandalism—is it ok to vandalize if you believe what you’re doing is right?  Teenage delinquency is mentioned, as a character has a record—and he is only in middle school.  There is teenage smoking, stealing, and lying in all forms—when is it ‘ok’ to lie?  The idea that lying is ok if you’re protecting someone is often present.  A few mild themes would be that of protecting the environment and the animals, and making friends/dealing with bullies at school and/or in new towns.

Hoot is written for a younger audience and aims toward more older elementary/middle school age children.

Alcohol / Drug Use:


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About the Reviewer

I read anything and everything. I love the smell of books. My kids giggle at me when I open a new box of books from Amazon and I inhale the new pages and rub the shiny new spine against my face! 🙂 My husband just rolls his eyes at me and is grateful he has me on a budget! 🙂