by Jeffrey Canton
Hoot, Carl Hiaasen's first book for younger readers is part mystery, part slapstick comedy and is a totally satisfying and truly environmentally friendly novel. On one level, it's a story about Roy Eberhardt, the new kid in this otherwise sleepy little Florida town who has caught the eye of the local bully and has to find a way of dealing with this dilemma as well as make his own place in his new community. On another, it's a richly comic farce that gives kids a chance to see the ineptitude of adults¨this is shown to great effect in the bumblings of Coconut Cove's local "Public Safety Department" and the hilarious happenings at the construction site of the new Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House. But Hoot is not just pure farce¨and that is what makes it such an interesting novel¨it also explores the way that any number of corrupt and greedy adults view the world as theirs to plunder no matter the consequences. Most importantly, Hoot is a book about kids trying to change their world, to expose and take on corporate corruption. As Roy becomes embroiled in Mullet Fingers' and his sister Beatrice's fight to save the nests of the tiny burrowing owls who make their home on the Mother Paula's site, he realizes the power that he has despite the fact that he's a kid. Roy learns to stand up not only for himself but also for who he wants to be and for the world he wants to live in. Hiaasen delivers a powerful message in a wonderfully engaging fiction that is sure to get young readers thinking about what they can do too. Hiaasen is a straight shooter with his adult readers and he treats his younger readers with the same consideration. Here's hoping we'll hear more hoots from Hiaasen soon.