Hoot Summary

Carl Hiaasen


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Hoot Summary

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics.  This one-page guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of Hoot by Carl Hiaasen.

Hoot is a 2002 novel written by Carl Hiaasen. In 2006, a film adaptation of the book was released. The setting takes place in Florida, where a new boy, Roy Eberhardt, moves to town and makes two strange, out of the ordinary friends and a bad enemy. He also joins an effort to stop construction of a pancake house, which would destroy a colony of burrowing owls that live on the site.

As the story Hoot opens, Roy is being bullied on the bus on his way to his middle school in Florida. He has just moved to the town of Coconut Cove, and he is having trouble making friends. It does not help that the unkind Dana Matherson has targeted him, spending much of his time tormenting and bullying Roy.

Dana calls Roy a “cowgirl,” constantly teases him, and tries to start fights with Roy. One day, Dana manages to get his hand around Roy’s head and squeeze it tighter and tighter, torturing Roy to make him beg for mercy. Because Roy’s head is smashed against the bus window, Roy notices a boy his age running alongside the bus. The boy is running incredibly quickly, and Roy notices that the boy is not wearing shoes. Roy is fascinated as he watches the boy sprint away. His curiosity is heightened, and Roy wonders who this kid is. He wonders why the kid is not in school or not getting on the bus. He continues to wonder where the boy is running to, why he is running so fast, why he is not wearing shoes… As Dana finally releases Roy’s head, Roy vows to figure out who the running boy is.

A few days later, Roy notices the boy running past the bus again and decides he wants to pursue the boy. But, Dana grabs Roy as he tries to get off the bus. Committed to getting off the bus and following the mysterious boy, Roy lands a strong punch to Dana’s face and takes off running. He runs for a long time, following the boy through neighborhoods and parking lots and, finally, across a golf course, where he is hit in the head with a golf ball, ending his chase.

The school suspends Roy from the bus for two weeks and orders him to write an apology to Dana for hitting him. Roy calls for a truce, but Dana refuses to accept it. At school, Beatrice Leep, a girl in his grade who is on the soccer team, accosts Roy. She grills him about why he was following the running boy, and tells Roy to stay away from him or she will beat Roy up. This serves to make Roy more curious.

Later in the week, Roy returns to the golf course and goes into the woods where he sees the bare-footed boy run. He discovers a campsite that seems to be inhabited, but no one is there. As Roy explores the area, he accidentally disturbs a bag filled with dozens of poisonous cottonmouth snakes. Roy notices something odd—the tips of the snakes’ tails are covered in sparkly paint. At that moment, a voice behind Roy tells him to freeze and walk backward. The running boy grabs Roy and covers his face with a hood. The running boy takes Roy out of the forest and then disappears again.

A café, Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House, decides to build a franchise in Coconut Cove, but vandalism delays the work. Roy learns the running boy is the vandal known as “Mullet Fingers,” and they became friends. Mullet Fingers wants construction delayed in order to save the burrowing owl, an endangered species that lives on the site.

Leroy “Curly” Branitt, the construction foreman, denies the owls’ existence. Roy helps Mullet Fingers prove otherwise and tells his class about the owls, how construction would kill the endangered species; he encourages them to join him in protests. Roy and his classmates ultimately expose the truth. They reveal that the company illegally removed an environmental impact statement from its files. This revelation saves the owls and their habitat. Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake House blames former employees and promises to preserve the property as an owl sanctuary.

Mullet Fingers’ mother sees him protesting with Roy and his classmates and takes her son home. Two days later, Mullet Fingers climbs out the bathroom window and is mistaken for a burglar. Mullet Fingers’ mother lies to the police and says he stole a very valuable toe ring. The police believe her, and Mullet Fingers is sent to a juvenile detention center where he escapes. In the last chapter, Roy discovers Mullet Fingers real name is Napoleon Bridger.