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Literature / Hoot

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A middle grade novel by Carl Hiaasen published in 2002. It won a Newbery Honor in the following year.

The plot follows a boy in middle-school named Roy and the construction of a pancake house in Coconut Cove, Florida. Roy's father has a military career which forces his family to relocate within the United States constantly. At the start of the novel, Roy is just settling into his new town.

He sees a mysterious barefoot boy, and attracts the ire of the school bully as well as the attention of the school's jockiest jock (who also happens to be a girl) just on his first day. Further investigation leads him to find out that the barefoot boy is protecting a family of burrowing owls and is also the one "sabotaging" the construction of the pancake house.

A film adaptation was released in 2006, starring Luke Wilson, Logan Lerman, and Brie Larson.


This novel has examples of the following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Lonna Leep, Mullet Fingers's mother and Beatrice's stepmother. Beatrice is tough as nails, but even she needs to get out of the house when Lonna "[falls] off her broom." Lonna's husband Leon is not abusive, but too lazy to take an interest in much of anything, including his daughter and stepson.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Garrett pretends to dictate Roy's apology letter to Dana:
    Garrett: "I'm sorry I smoked you. Please don't break every bone in my body. Please leave me at least one good arm so I can feed myself."''
    Roy: You're hilarious.
  • Adults Are Useless: With the possible exception of Roy's parents, who mostly act as moral support, Officer Delinko, and Mr. Ryan.
  • Angry Guard Dog: Curly tries using these to guard the construction site. Mullet Fingers uses some water moccasins to cause their trainer to reclaim them and leave with them in a huff.
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  • Berserk Button: Beatrice is not pleased when Lonna swipes a topaz charm that used to belong to her mother and makes it into a toe ring.
  • The Big Guy: Beatrice. Who is huge for a sixth grade girl and can easily string up the (also huge) school bully on a flagpole.
  • Captain Ersatz:
  • Cassandra Truth: No one will believe that there are burrowing owls on the construction site.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: Garrett's mother is a middle school guidance counselor, but her son is a notorious troublemaker and class clown. Roy figures her job leaves her too tired to deal with Garrett when they get home.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Chuck Muckle. Who will not stop at anything to get that pancake house built. Not even Florida State Law will deter him.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Roy gets in trouble when he punches Dana Matherson, and as his punishment, he's banned from riding the bus, despite having evidence that Dana was choking him at the time. His mother, not realizing that her son wants to be alive, fights for him to get back on the bus.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: According to Garrett, Beatrice's reaction to a football player slapping her butt was to shove him into the water fountain and break three of his collarbones. Ouch.
    • Double "ouch", given that humans only have two collarbones.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Mullet Fingers. Roy notices this and it kicks off the whole plot.
  • Embarrassing First Name / Embarrassing Middle Name: Napoleon Bridger for Mullet Fingers. There's also the school bully, who's first name is Dana.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Mullet Fingers is willing to vandalize the site of the pancake house to disrupt construction and protect the owls, but he doesn't actually want anyone to get hurt. Even when he unleashes water moccasins (a kind of venomous snake) to scare the guard dogs, he tapes their mouths shut first and coats their tails in glitter so they'll be easy to spot.
  • Fluffy Tamer: Kalo, the trainer of the Angry Guard Dogs mentioned above.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: One of the Angry Guard Dogs is named "Pookie Face".
  • Foul Cafeteria Food: One of the things on Roy's lunch tray is an overbaked chocolate chip cookie "the size of a hockey puck and just about as tasty." It's so hard it makes a thud when it lands on his plate.
  • Funetik Aksent: Kalo, who is German.
    • In the film these lines are spoken exactly as written, with the result sounding more like Goldmember than any real German accent.
  • Guile Hero: Roy has a moment like this where he tricks Dana into going to the construction site by telling him about a stash of imaginary Gladiator Gold cigarettes. Beatrice is a straighter example.
  • Head Pet: While not a pet per se, the burrowing owls are familiar and comfortable enough around Mullet Fingers that they'll land on top of his head.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Beatrice's father, Leon Leep, used to be a famous basketball player for the Miami Heat, but now, according to Mullet Fingers, "eats Hot Pockets and stares at ESPN all day long".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Beatrice, a notorious hardcase who's also pretty nice when she figures out Roy genuinely wants to help her stepbrother.
  • Kid Has a Point: A recurring theme in nearly all of Hiaasen's young adult novels. Several of the adult characters are not bad people, but they are too occupied with their own lives to worry about animal rights, environmental issues, or municipal corruption, while Roy, Mullet Fingers and Beatrice figure out for themselves what they need to do to save the owls at the construction site.
  • Meaningful Name: Mullet Fingers' nickname comes from his quick reflexes, allowing him to catch a mullet fish by hand. Roy tries it at the end of the book and think it's impossible, only to find Mullet Fingers already caught a fish and put it in his shoes.
  • Military School: Mullet Fingers is mentioned to have been sent to and ran away from one.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The cover features a pair of eyes and a beak on a blue background, and nothing else.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Roy, who's just moved to Florida from Montana.
  • Nature Is Not Nice: Mullet Fingers plants cottonmouth snakes at the construction site, and both he and Roy know just how dangerous they are.
  • Odd Name Out: Kalo's four Rottweilers are named Max, Klaus, Karl, and... Pookie Face. The last one gets a somewhat incredulous reaction from Curly.
  • Ominous Owl: Subverted. While burrowing owls are tiny and adorable, their existence on the construction site spelled doom for the pancake house, as the Floridian burrowing owl is classified as "threatened".
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Mullet Fingers. Near the end, Roy reads a newspaper article about him and it turns out that his full name is Napoleon Bridger Leep.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: Mullet Fingers puts a bunch of alligators in the construction workers' outhouses and releases a bunch of harmless cottonmouths in the site to keep the project from progressing.
  • Shouldn't We Be In School Right Now?: Mullet Fingers, who ran away from military school and lives in the woods.
  • Shown Their Work / Shout-Out: Roy asks his father to open to 278 of The Sibley Guide To Birds. His father does so, then reads a passage from the book. If one opens the guide to the specified page, they will find the exact same passage.
  • Tomboy: Beatrice, who is the most athletic girl in the school.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In both the book and the film, Officer Delinko spends most of the story as the Butt-Monkey for Mullet Fingers's vandalism, but when he interrogates Dana Matherson, he calmly hoists a miniature (live) alligator out of a bag, and Dana's terrified reaction instantly proves he's not responsible for the vandalism.
  • Tsundere: Beatrice is a Type A.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Kimberly Lou Dixon, the actress who plays the pancake house's mansion Mother Paula. She's very beautiful, but has a voice like E.T. and an uncouth vocabulary. Granted, her voice fits a lot better when she's made up as an old grandma like Mother Paula.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Subverted in that Beatrice's stepmother isn't very nice to her own son either.

The film has examples of the following tropes:

  • Shirtless Scene: Mullet Fingers, in a clear moment of teen-girl fanservice. If you can believe it, it's also a case of Adaptational Modesty with the equivalent scene in the book.