Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Book Review: Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

Hootis the story of Roy Eberhardt, new to Florida (again) and just starting school. While trying to avoid being beaten by the school bully Dana Matherson, Roy catches a glimpse of a running boy. While Roy tries to figure out who that kid is, he finds himself involved in an intricate problem - one involving an uncaring pancake franchise and burrowing owls.

Things I Liked:
I really think the best part about this book was the quirky characters. I loved hearing the stories about Roy, Beatrice, Dana, and many of the minor characters as well. I also thought the plot was very fun - middle grade boys will especially eat this up. I actually listened to the audio version of the book, and I really liked the narrator's different voices.

Things I Didn't Like:
I am not terribly fond of books that have such an overt message. I don't mind issue books, but I really don't want to be beaten over the head with it. I think the humor helped a lot, but I didn't get into the story. Sometimes it seemed like not enough was happening and it got a bit dull. I was also a little disappointed in how the story got to its ending. I liked the ending, but I thought it would have been smarter to go a different route.

I think most of Hiaasen's middle grade books are similar: Flush and Scat
A bit like Holes by Louis Sachar

s-factor: !

mrg-factor: none

v-factor: none

Overall rating: ***

What do you think of issue books? Like em? Hate em? Only if you agree with them?


  1. I agree with you on issue books -- they are probably more effective when the message is more subtle rather than beating the reader over the head with it.

    Thanks for your review! I might have to suggest this one to my 10-year-old.

  2. Yeah, I like my messages subtle. Please don't beat me over the head with whatever idea your selling.

  3. I am TOTALLY with you on not liking overt messages. Part of why I quit reading Patterson is that the Maximum Ride series quickly devolved into eco-propaganda. Seriously, there was almost no story at all holding the message together by the end. I still liked Hoot. Hiaasen's Star Girl was interesting with a message so subtle I don't think I got it (unless he was selling meditation).

  4. Gayle, I hope your boy likes it! He will probably not be as annoyed by the enviro-message.

    Britt, amen.

    Cara, I couldn't find a Star Girl by Hiaasen, but there was a Nature Girl - was that the one you were talking about? I haven't read any of Hiaasen's adult stuff, though I've heard great stuff about them.

  5. I remember thinking this book was okay, but I tried to read Flush, I think it was, and gave up. It was WAY to preachy and issue-y for me.

  6. Suey, I think I'm done with these books too.

  7. I'm solidly in the hate 'em category. I don't mind books that teach good, moral lessons, but I prefer it when I don't REALIZE I'm being taught those messages.

    I didn't love HOOT either, although I thought the movie was cute.

  8. Susan, I haven't seen the movie, but I bet kids love it. What a great way of stating it too - we don't realize we are being taught. Those are the best books!

  9. I think Jerry Spinelli wrote "Star Girl". My view is that if you want to give a lesson y'all should write a pamphlet, or a non fiction book. The purpose of fiction is to tell a story and as said so much more eloquently by others, keep the lessons invisible. And my observation is that once kids get to a certain age they spot if they're being preached at and it's a turn off.

  10. Yeah, Stargirl is Spinelli. It's sitting here waiting for me to read it for a neighborhood book club...
    Hope it's good. I haven't read any of his...

  11. Stargirl's ok, but once again, the message was perhaps a little on the obvious side. Still worth reading though.

  12. Andi, I think you are right about kids spotting preaching. They see it a mile off and know to avoid it. You're right about Stargirl, of course.

    Britt, I actually really liked Stargirl, though the message was pretty obvious. I remember reading Maniac Magee by Spinelli in grade school and thought it was the best ever! Haven't read it since to see if I still think so, though.


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