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Hoot

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Hoot is a young adult novel by Carl Hiaasen. The story is set in Florida where Roy and his two friends try to stop construction of a pancake house which would destroy a colony of Burrowing owls who live on the site. The book won a Newbery Honor award in 2003.

It was released as a film in May 2006.

Plot Summary

"Roy Eberhardt was sitting on the bus looking out the window. He doesn't normally look out the bus window. The only reason he was looking out the window was because Dana Matherson was holding his head smashed up against it. Dana was the main bully of the school, and probably is about twice the size of Roy, and loved smoking and beating up little kids, especially Roy. It was a good thing that he smashed Roy’s face up against the window, because if he didn't, Roy would have never seen the running boy," is the first paragraph of the book.

Recently moved from Montana, Roy struggles to adjust to his new life in Florida. Not only does he miss the mountains and the snow; at school and even on the school bus, his schoolmates tease him mercilessly because of his previous life in Montana, calling him "Cowgirl" and he later becomes known as, "Tex". One day, bully Dana Matherson tries to strangle Roy on the bus, Roy strikes back by punching Dana in the face and breaks Dana's nose. Everyone thinks it was Roy who started the fight, so the vice-principal makes Roy write an apology letter to Dana. However, the vice-principal notices finger-shaped bruises on Roy's neck where Dana attempted to strangle him on the bus, and believes Roy's side of the story. However, that was not all that was going on.

Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House corporation intended to build a pancake house in Coconut Cove. The bulldozers had already been parked on the construction site, but work was delayed over and over again because of bizarre but effective acts of vandalism occurring. As a groundbreaking ceremony has already been scheduled and advertised, the company is eager to stop the sabotage.

While all this is going on, a boy called Mullet Fingers, which is the same kid Roy saw running earlier, is on the run from his dysfunctional family, living wild in the swamplands. An extremely strong girl, named Beatrice, tells Roy that he is her stepbrother. Her biological mother left her father after he stopped working. He remarried to an extremely nasty woman named Lonna, who hated Mullet Fingers' strange ways and sent him off to boarding school. Instead, Mullet Fingers ran away, and his sole contact being Beatrice. However, one morning, Roy spots him when he is running away from the school bus rather than hurrying to join the other kids at the next bus stop. Curious, Roy begins investigating and, after some initial setbacks, eventually not only makes Mullet Fingers' acquaintance but also convinces the other boy that he can be trusted.

After he gains her trust, Beatrice also helps Roy out. When Dana Matherson attempts to kill Roy in a closet after school, Beatrice saves Roy by stripping Dana down to his underwear and tying him to a flag pole with his shirt. Roy attempts to make peace with Dana, but the bully does not agree. The argument ends with Dana being locked outside of his house clad in only some boxer shorts.

It turns out that the running boy, who prefers to be called "Mullet Fingers", is responsible for the acts of vandalism that have been committed at the construction site. His motives, however, are honorable; Mullet Fingers wants to save the burrowing owls, which are endangered and protected by law, that live on the site from being killed when the bulldozing begin construction.

Some antics Mullet Fingers uses to delay the construction include putting gators in the portable outhouse toilets, spray-painting a sleeping police officer's windows black, and dumping venemous cottonmouth snakes onto the construction site (with their mouths taped shut). Roy, after finding out about the owls, helps also. He lies to Dana and tells him that a large amount of cigarettes is hidden in the construction site. So Dana breaks into the construction site to get the cigarettes and is arrested, believed to be the vandal. One policeman is not fully convinced, because Dana panics at the sight of a plastic alligator, proving that he could not have put the live ones in the toilet. Even so, they keep him in a juvenile detention center because of his bad record. Roy, meanwhile, searches the Internet and finds a law saying how the burrowing owls are protected by law. Since the guards at the construction site denied any knowledge of the birds, this proves that they are breaking the law. Roy also gives Mullet Fingers a digital camera to take some pictures of the owls to prove their existence and tells his history class about the owls and how the pancake company will bury them.

Eventually, Roy and Beatrice lead a student march to the site, where they expose the company's greed and dishonesty to the entire town. Although Mullet Finger's pictures were unidentifiable, a live burrowing owl flies out, proving that owls still live in the area. Kimberly Lou Dixon, an actress who acted as the company's mascot, is disgusted with her employer's callousness and joins the demonstrators. The company is revealed as having looted the environment for personal gain; illegally removing an environmental-impact statement from the official file and taking a bribe; and, eventually, in almost destroying the birds and their habitat. Mother Paula's All-American Pancake House is put into disgrace, and can only evade ruin by expelling the guilty employees and disavowing the plan to build. Lonna attempts to use her son's temporary fame to become famous herself, even trying to schedule an interview on Oprah. Mullet Fingers, in the effort to escape his vile family situation, climbs out of a bathroom window and is accidentally mistaken for a burglar. He is shipped to the same juvenile detention center as Dana. When his mother tells the police that he stole a ring from her, Mullet Fingers escapes the center, using Dana's simultaneous escape as a distraction. Beatrice already knows where he went, but informs Roy that she promised Mullet Fingers not to say where he went. Roy adapts to his new home slowly but willingly. At the end, Mullet Fingers' real name is revealed to Roy as Napolean Bridger Leep.