By Carl Hiaasen

Best for age 9 and older. 292 pages.

Pity poor Roy Eberhardt.

He’s the new kid in school — again.

And the first kid he meets at his new school in Florida is well-known bully Dana Matherson.

But Roy is always looking on the bright side. Roy figures if Dana had not smushed Roy’s face into the window of the school bus, he might never have met Mullet Fingers — and might never have embarked on a very strange ad­ven­ture involving a pancake house, burrowing owls and a fake fart champion.

Hiaasen is a newspaper columnist who has written mysteries and thrillers for adults. “Hoot” is his first book for kids, but it features the same kind of quirky characters and pro-environment themes that his other books do.

The book’s humor is decidedly kid-friendly (pranks involving alligators in porta-potties, for example), but its story involving Roy and his new-found friends fighting against evil and sometimes incompetent adults will have kids feeling that they can make a difference in the world. Of course, the tactics the kids use might not be ones that parents would always approve of.

Regardless, in our book, “Hoot” is, well, a hoot.

— Tracy Grant