A FEW OTHER EVENTS FOR
- Itâ€™s the birth date of Roma Gans (1894â€“1996), Letâ€™s-Read-and-Find-Out Science book series, Harry Kullman (1919â€“1982) The Battle Horse, and Edward Gorey (1925â€“2000) The Gashlycrumb Tinies, Old Possumâ€™s Book of Practical Cats.
- Senator Edward M. Kennedy (1932â€“2009) was born on this day. Read My Senator and Me: A Dogâ€™s-Eye View of Washington, D.C. by Edward Kennedy, illustrated by David Small. Itâ€™s also Walking the Dog Day, though dogs should have the chance to go for a good walk every day!
- Happy birthday North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Washington, which all became states on this day in 1889.
On February 22, 1819, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams signed the Florida Purchase Treaty, making the Spanish territory part of the United States. When I think of recent books set in Florida, Carl Hiaasenâ€™s Newbery Honor Book Hoot, an exciting, page-turning mystery, immediately comes to mind.
Roy Eberhardt, new kid in town, has arrived from Montana to Coconut Grove, Florida. Since his father works for the Department of Justice and moves frequently for his job, Roy knows the routineâ€”eating by himself, isolation, and bullies waiting to push him around. In fact, the book begins with the local bully, Dana Matherson, squashing Royâ€™s face against the bus window. While Dana is holding his head against the glass, Roy sees a towheaded boy recklessly running barefoot through the Florida landscape. When Roy decides to find this boy, nicknamed Mullet Fingers because he can catch the fish with his bare hands, Roy discovers that a new pancake house is about to be built over the dens of some extremely cute and very tiny burrowing owls. To save these small members of the biological community, Mullet Fingers has been engaging in ecoterrorism.
Soon Roy and Mullet Fingerâ€™s sister, Beatrice, get swept up in Mullet Fingerâ€™s obsession. Rather than ecoterrorism, Roy decides to rely on the law and convinces his classmates to fight for the life of these owls and their babies. Readers turn the pages breathlessly to see if these three middle school children can successfully challenge the adult community and save some fellow travelers on this planet.
Not only does this engaging story explore the issues of endangered species and biological diversity, it shows young people taking action. Filled with humor, quirky characters, and suspenseful scenes, the book also gives some of the best advice about bullies in contemporary fiction; Roy solves that problem, too, in a very creative way. A perfect choice for eight- to fourteen-year-olds, the book often appeals as well to fans of Hiaasenâ€™s adult mysteries. After all, aÂ well-writtenÂ story, with something to say, can appeal to people of many generations.
Hereâ€™s a passage from Hoot:
Roy would not have noticed the strange boy if it werenâ€™t for Dana Matherson, because Roy ordinarily didnâ€™t look out the window of the school bus. He preferred to read comics and mystery books on the morning ride to Trace Middle.
But on this ride, a Monday (Roy would not forget), Dana Matherson grabbed Royâ€™s head from behind and pressed his thumbs into Royâ€™s temple, as if he were squeezing a soccer ball.
Originally posted February 22, 2011. Updated for .