Carl Hiaasen's novel Hoot tells the story of middle school protagonist Roy Eberhardt. He frequently moves to new places due to his father's job. He isn't in Coconut Cove, Florida for very long before he discovers a mysterious barefoot running boy while he is being attacked by school bully Dana Matherson.
As the story unfolds, Roy discovers the identity of the running boy, known as "Mullet Fingers." He also gets the best of Dana and garners the attention of Officer Delinko, as well as Mullet's sister Beatrice. Roy, Beatrice, and Mullet (real name: Napoleon Bridger) join the quest began by Mullet to save the burrowing owls that live on the Mother Paula's Pancake House construction site. Mullet has some creative ways of shutting down construction—like alligators in the port-a-potties and snakes to scare away the guard dogs—but Roy comes up with a more impactful plan.
With the help of his father, Roy discovers that the Mother Paula's company hid an environmental impact report that would have shut down construction. He and his friends devise a plan for making this information public. Meanwhile, Roy has to deal with Dana's harassment. Dana smashes his face into the bus window and insults him regularly. Once Roy decides he's had enough, he punches Dana and gives him a black eye. He earns the admiration of his friend Garrett for standing up to the notorious bully. He also earns the respect of "Beatrice the Bear" who helps him deal with Dana's harassment.
In the epilogue of the novel, we learn that Tom Brokaw, a news anchor on a national television network, was talking about Roy and Beatrice and what they had done to save the owls. Film crews were sent to Trace Middle School, but Roy tries to avoid the recognition. Roy doesn't feel like he deserves the recognition, since it was Mullet Fingers who knew about the owls and had tried to save them before Roy ever knew they existed. Roy's father encourages him by telling him:
You got the word out, Roy. Without you, nobody would have known what was happening. Nobody would have showed up to protest the bulldozing.
These two things, Roy's courage in facing school bully Dana, and his leadership in bringing the issue of the burrowing owls to the attention of the town of Coconut Cove and the media, are what makes Roy "famous" at Trace Middle School.