Monday, February 19, 2007

Eco-Fiction: Hoot and Flush by Carl Hiaasen

When the bete noir of coastal over-development writes a junior novel, he doesn't leave behind the off-beat indigenous Floridian cast of characters adult readers know and love. In Carl Hiaasen's Newbery honor book Hoot, a Coconut Cove newbie, Roy, aided and abetted by his Huck Finn-ish accomplice "Mullet Fingers" and his pugnacious step-sister Beatrice, foils the plans of Aunt Paula's All-American Pancake House Corporation to plant yet another of their cholesterol cuisine castles on top of the habitat of the endangered burrowing owl.

A bit of mild eco-terrorism and some clever public relations campaigns make Roy the hero of Trace Middle School and Coconut Cove and the endangered owls remain safe to, well, hoot! This book is also available on film in the the 2006 release Hoot.)

Hiaasen's second eco-mystery Flush, is really my favorite of the two Hiaasen books. In this one, Noah and his little sister Abby, worry that their wimpy but environmentally-correct dad, will never get out of jail after he sinks a casino boat which he believes is dumping its raw sewage into the local lagoon. The two do some nocturnal surveillance of Dusty Muleman's off-shore gambling operation and are convinced that their dad is right about the illegal activities, but are unable to come up with proof until they hit on a foolproof caper--they smuggle themselves on board, and with the aid of some typical Hiaasen coastal characters, dump enough food coloring into the casino boat's heads to color the whole lagoon pink when Dusty does his nightly dump.

Hiaasen comes up with his usual quirky accomplices for the eco-kids corps--Lice, their shiftless and reluctant chief witness, Shelly, his somewhat disreputable girlfriend with a heart of gold, and the kids' long-lost grandfather who bears a passing resemblance to Hiaasen's favorite swamp hero Skink. This book is just plain fun for all, and it's, well, a hoot to see the enviro-crooks caught, er, red-handed (so to speak) at the end. It's somewhat of a tour de force to create a fiction book with an environmental message that is not a bit preachy, but Hiaasen has done it again.

I wish they'd make a movie of this one!



  • My older son (10 yrs) loved Hoot...

    By Blogger Frieda, at 9:12 PM  

  • Did he read FLUSH?

    By Blogger GTC, at 10:50 AM  

  • No, I will get it for him..thanks

    By Blogger Frieda, at 7:50 PM  

  • Both are enjoyable for long-time adult Hiaasen readers, as well. As such, they'd probably make great joint reading projects. Of course, I say this as someone with no experience with children.

    By Blogger mdmnm, at 12:44 PM  

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