The Viper Vibe
Hiassen takes on the plight of the owlMonday, October 01, 2007 By Melissa Caceres/co-Editor-in-Chief/review
While Florida is more than filled with its share of exotic animals, not very many people are aware that there is a growing population of small owls that can be found around the state. Even around the school, Burrowing Owls can be seen nesting in small crevices such as water pipes and abandoned holes in the ground left by small creatures. In his first book for young adults, former Miami Herald reporter and Florida native, Carl Hiassen sheds light on this endangered species by introducing the story of a boy and his friends and how they fight to save a piece of land that is inhabited by Burrowing Owls from being destroyed for the construction of a pancake franchise restaurant. Taking place around Orlando, Florida, the book opens with the main character, Roy Eberhart, who has just moved from Montana, being unmercilessly beaten by the local bully Dana Matherson on the school bus, when out of the corner of his eye he spots a boy running frantically on the sidewalk with no backpack or shoes. It is this that compels Roy to investigate who this mysterious boy is and the reason why he seems to be running in the opposite direction of the school bus without any shoes. When he tries to find out for himself who the boy is, he ends up being caught in the middle of what seems to be a secret plan to save a local street territory from becoming another one of Paula's All-American Pancake restaurants and systematically burying the burrows of the tiny owls that live there. Roy, along with the strange boy who's name is Mullet Fingers and Beatrice, his tough stepsister, end up making it clear that they and the burrowing owls will not go down without a fight; even if it means outsmarting the local police official, Officer Delinko. ‘Hoot’ was made into a movie in 2006 starring Luke Wilson as Officer Delinko. Hiassen won the Newbery Medal for his book. This award is given annually “to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children” by the Association for Library Service to Children (www.ala.org).