Newbery Project – Hoot

A Newbery Honor in 2003, this book has a strong conservation theme running through it. I liked that of the two boys protesting the owls, in the end it is Roy’s completely legal efforts to build community support that win the day, versus the more clever but illegal vandalism that Beatrice’s brother uses. I wish that Beatrice’s brother had gotten in trouble at the end of the book not because Lana lied about him stealing but because of what he actually did, which was vandalize the property. However well intentioned he was, and as much as I was rooting for him, it was unrealistic that no charges were ever pressed.

The characterization was well done as long as I accepted that there was a tinge of magical-realism to many of the people and that all of the characters, with the possible exception of Roy, were essentially cariactures. No one in the story came off as anything more than one-dimensional, each of them worried about only one thing: the police officer with his career, Mullet Fingers with the owls, Dana with beating up Roy, etc. And even Roy’s relatively well-rounded persona acted out of character in almost every interaction with Dana.

I’m complaining a lot, but I did enjoy reading the book, I just can see why it was only an Honor and did not walk away with the big prize.

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