About the Book
Published in 2002 by Knopf Books for Young Readers, Carl Hiaasenís novel Hoot was a 2003 Newbery Honor Book. Available in hardcover, paperback, and audiobook, the book is 304 pages long. It is appropriate for Independent readers grades 5 and above.
Roy Eberhardt has arrived in Coconut Cove, Florida, with a big chip on his 12-year-old shoulder. He misses the wild beauty of Montana, and he's found himself the new kid at school, at the mercy of the school bully, Dana Matherson. Life quickly gets interesting when Roy sees a barefoot boy running away from the school bus one morning. When he decides to investigate, his snooping lands him in the middle of a full-blown ecological mystery. The chase introduces him to range of colorful characters and unlikely animals, including a renegade environmentalist and potty-trained alligators.
About the Author
Carl Hiaasen, a columnist for the Miami Herald since 1985, is the author of many best-selling novels for adults, which have been published in over two dozen languages. A native of Florida, Hiaasen says that he has been writing about Florida since his father gave him a typewriter when he was six. Hoot, Hiaasenís first novel for young readers, has been optioned for the movies by Jimmy Buffett
Readers will need some understanding of Florida, where Hoot is set, going beyond the famous amusement theme parks. You might want to start by asking what your book club participants know about Florida. Then you can provide background information from Florida Kids, brought to you by the Florida State Department Office of Cultural and Historical Programs.
Burrowing owls are central to the novelís plot. Kidsí Planet and the San Diego Zoo provide interesting facts about this endangered species.
If you donít want to create your own book club guide, you can use these questions to guide your discussion of Hoot.
- Roy is unhappy about moving to Florida and starting at a new school. Have you ever moved or changed schools? How did you feel?
- Do you know any bullies like Dana Matherson? What is the best way to deal with a bully? What do you think makes someone become a bully?
- How is Roy's family different from Beatrice and Mullet Fingersís family?
- Mullet Fingers sets out to sabotage Mother Paula's building project because he wants to save the owls. Are there any situations you feel strongly about that would make you act as Mullet Fingers did?
- After Roy gives his own name when taking Mullet Fingers to the hospital, his mother tells him, "Honey, sometimes you're going to be faced with situations where the line isn't clear between what's right and what's wrong. 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 judgment." Do you think Roy did the right thing by giving his name at the hospital? Have you ever been in a situation like the one Roy's mother describes? What did you do?
- Did you get a good feel for what Florida is like from reading Hoot?
- Why did Mother Paula's Pancakes "lose" the environmental impact statement? What do you think Mother Paula could have done instead?
- There is a lot of humor in this book. Find one of the parts you thought was funny and share it with the group.
- Of the characters in the book, which one are you most like? Why?
Here are two ways to enrich your book clubís experience of Hoot using active learning strategies:
- Readers Theater offers young people an excellent way to adapt and dramatize this novel using collaborative script-writing activities.
- Readers can use the rich vocabulary of Hoot to create word searches, crosswords, and cryptograms for each other with Discovery School's Puzzlemaker.
The obvious snack to accompany a discussion of Hoot is pancakes like Mother Paula's.
If You Liked This Book, Try . . .
Lostman's River by Cynthia DeFelice
Riding the Flume by Patricia Curtis Pfitsch
Stefan's Story by Valerie Hobbs
Web-based Help for Discussion Leaders
If you want more help with your book club discussion, check out these websites: