Website of The Newbery Award- included list of all honored books since 1922, lots of books for readers of all ages
Home Page of Carl Hiaasan
If you are looking for a great book for children and teens, you need look no further than the list of Newbery Award Winners.
The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
Here is the description on the Newbery Award Website of Hoot by Carl Hiaasan:
"Hoot by Carl Hiaasen (Knopf)
"Hiaasen’s wildly funny satire features the new kid, Roy, joining forces with tough Beatrice and the elusive Mullet Fingers to defeat a bully, thwart an avaricious corporation and save a colony of burrowing owls."
Hoot is a very entertaining book, for young adult readers of all ages.
The main characters are about 13, just getting interested in opposite sex, asserting their independent characters, and mixing in the drama of middle school. The setting is South East Florida, an area the born in Florida Hiassan knows well. Having a nodding acquaintance with the area, I put the location as in Collier County, South of Naples, not too far from the Everglades. Only an author who really knows the area would include a reference to the invasive Brazilian Pepper Bush when depicting landscape.
The lead character, Ray, the only child of a Department of Justice employee and a stay at home mother, recently moved from Montanna to Florida, when his father was transferred. He misses Montanna. Being the new kid in school is never easy. Early on we meet the school bully who has it in for Ray, Beatrice, a very athletic girl, a mysterious boy. In the end it ends badly for the bully.
A new pancake restaurant, 469 in the chain, is under construction. We meet the construction forum, a decent cop who wants to move up to detective (he gets in trouble when he falls asleep in his patrol car and walked to find the windows all painted black, a nasty corporate type, teachers, more kids and the guidance counselor.
Hiaasan does a great job showing the development of a teenage relationship between Ray and Brenda. Brenda is a very strong person, a star soccer player, nobody messes with Brenda.
We also get to know a policeman, the construction foreman, a few other adults. The poor policeman fell asleep in his patrol car. When he awoke the windows were painted black and his captain was very mad. Figuring out who did this helps drive the action.
It turns out an endangered species of Florida birds, the burrowing owl has nests on the site of the future pancake place. It is a violation of Federal law to disturb their nests without a special permit. The restaurant chain tries lots of tricks to get around the rules.
There are several sets of parents, ranging from very good to models of parental dysfunction.
I laughed out loud several times while reading Hoot. There are very well done Everglades scenes, anyone who has ever done an Air Boat Everglades Ride will love going along with Ray and Brenda. Brenda's kind of mysterious step brother plays a big part in the plot. At first he seemed just crazy but then Ray and I bonded with him.
I loved the ending.
I enjoyed Hoot a lot, so many exciting developments, great characters and strong values.
I think this would make a good Christmas gift for young readers