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Book Clubbing


by Carl Hiaasen




Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiaasen

Author Interview

About the Book

In Hoot, Roy, who is new to his small Florida community, becomes involved in another boy's attempt to save a colony of burrowing owls from a proposed construction site. Unfortunately, Roy’s first acquaintance in Florida is Dana Matherson, a well-known bully. Then again, if Dana hadn’t been sinking his thumbs into Roy’s temples and mashing his face against the school-bus window, Roy might never have spotted the running boy. And the running boy is intriguing: he was running away from the school bus, carried no books, and–here’s the odd part–wore no shoes. Sensing a mystery, Roy sets himself on the boy’s trail. The chase introduces him to potty-trained alligators, a fake-fart champion, some burrowing owls, a renegade eco-avenger, and several extremely poisonous snakes with unnaturally sparkling tails. Hoot, which was Hiaasen’s first novel for young adults, was the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Newbery Award. The movie “Hoot” was released in 2006. 

About the Author

Carl Hiaasen was born in Plantation, Florida on March 12, 1953. He attended Emory University and graduated from the University of Florida in 1974 with a journalism degree. He worked as a newspaper reporter for the Cocoa Today and later he moved to the Miami Herald, where he still works today as a columnist. He has always maintained a focus on environmental issues and the preservation of nature. In the 80s he began writing novels, but he has been writing about Florida since his father gave him a typewriter at age six. 

Discussion Questions

  1. Mrs. Eberhardt tells Roy, "Honey, sometimes you're going to be faced with situations where the line isn't clear between what's right and what's wrong. Your heart will tell you to do one thing, and your brain will tell you to do something different. In the end, all that's left is to look at both sides and go with your best judgment." Discuss incidents where Roy's heart tells him one thing, his heart another.
  2. Have you ever been in a situation like Roy's mother describes? What did you do?
  3. How is Roy's family different from Beatrice/Mullet Fingers' family? What influence do you think the characters' families had on their actions? Explain. 
  4. Why does Beatrice feel a need to shield her stepbrother? Discuss whether there is a correlation between Mullet Fingers' family life and his desire to save the owls.
  5. Why did Mother Paula's Pancakes "lose" the Environmental Impact Statement? What do you think they could have done instead?
  6. Through much of the book, Roy feels like an outsider. What finally makes him feel that he belongs in Florida?
  7. Do you think other characters feel like outcasts? Which ones? Why would they feel like this?
  8. Dana Matherson bullies Roy, but other characters also act as bullies. Which characters? Who are their targets? Discuss ways of dealing with bullies in real life.
  9. Once Roy learned of Mullet Fingers' plan to save the burrowing owls, he wanted to help. Which boy's method do you think was more effective? Why?
  10. Mullet Fingers vandalized the construction site and the patrol car. Was he justified in doing this? Why or why not? 
  11. Mullet Fingers shows Roy a great spot to get away and relax away from the stress of school and family. Do you have a place like this? Describe your place, or how you would like your place to be.
  12. Mullet Fingers earned his nickname from his ability to catch a mullet fish with his bare hands. Think of a special talent you have - what nickname could you give yourself based on this talent?
  13. If you could write yourself into this book, where/how would you fit in?
  14. At the end of the novel, Roy begins to feel more at home in Florida. Whydo you think this is? What makes you feel at home somewhere?
  15. Hoot has been made into a movie. How do you think a movie would enhance this story? How might it hurt this story?