Carl Hiaasen's novel Hoot addresses the problems of bullying as well as environmental destruction. The main problem that is woven throughout the novel is the problem of the burrowing owls that are endangered by the construction of a new restaurant.
The novel's main character, Roy Eberhardt, has moved multiple times in his life due to his father's job and is living in Coconut Cove, Florida when the novel opens. No stranger to bullies, Roy encounters another on his first bus trip to Trace Middle School—one Dana Matherson. What is different about this bullying experience is that while Dana is smashing Roy's face against the window, Roy notices something odd. He sees a boy about his own age running down the street with no shoes. Roy becomes very curious about the boy, and this curiosity frames the whole novel and causes him to meet Beatrice the Bear Leep, stepsister to Napoleon Leep, the mysterious running boy. He also discovers that Napoleon, better known as Mullet Fingers, is responsible for some vandalism at a construction site of a new Mother Paula's Pancake House. Construction has been halted several times due to survey stakes being pulled up, alligators in the port-a-potties, and snakes placed on the site to scare away the guard dogs. Roy learns that Mullet Fingers is behind all this because he wants to save the burrowing owls on the property. Mullet Fingers is a homeless boy who cares deeply about animals and nature.
Roy gets involved in Mullet Fingers's quest to save the owls, but he does not agree with his new friend's illegal methods. He seeks to find a legal solution to the problem of the burrowing owls. With the help of his father and police officer David Delinko, they discover that Chuck Muckle, the vice-president of the company in charge of constructing the new restaurant, hid the environmental report that stated that the protected owls were on the property.
Roy, Beatrice, and Mullet Fingers let their classmates know about the owls at the ground-breaking ceremony. Roy tried to let the crowd know about the owls by providing pictures, but the pictures came out too fuzzy to identify the owls. Mullet Fingers puts himself inside one of the owl dens and refuses to move so that the construction cannot commence. Students begin joining hands and singing "This Land is Your Land" which causes a publicity nightmare for Chuck Muckle.
Roy's father helps out by locating the environmental impact report that Roy tried to find, but was unable to locate:
"'What is it, Dad?' Roy opened the folder and broke into a grin. 'It's the file from City Hall, isn't it?'
'A copy,' said his father, 'that's correct.'
'The one with all the Mother Paula's stuff. I tried to find it but it wasn't there,' Roy said. 'Now I know why."
The work of Roy and his father halts construction on the site and saves the owls, which is how the main problem of the novel is solved. As for Dana, he continues to try to bully Roy until he encounters Roy's newest ally, Beatrice Leep. She intercepts Dana when he is looking for Roy, strips him to his underwear and ties him to the flagpole.
There are multiple conflicts in the book "Hoot." The most immediate conflict to the main character, Roy, is the school bully. That guy's name is Dana Matherson. He is relentless in his pursuit of making Roy's life miserable. Roy's solution is a clever one. Roy actually manages to frame Dana for all of the vandalism that is happening to the construction site nearby. Dana goes to juvenile hall and is not seen again. That makes it seem like Roy is just as mean (but more clever), but it really is hard to feel sorry for Dana. He is just that much of a jerk.
The other conflict involves the construction site that I mentioned earlier. The empty lot is the site for a new All American Pancake house. The problem is that the site is also home to some burrowing owls. The construction will kill the owls, but the owner and foreman are pretending to not know about the owls. Roy, Mullet-Fingers, and Beatrice make it their mission to stop the construction project and bring awareness to the owls. Long story short, the construction project is found to be illegal because of the presence of the owls. The project is shut down, the owls are left alone, and everybody rejoices. Well, everybody except Dana.