About the Book

This is an enjoyable story about a middle schooler named Roy, who is the new kid in a Florida town. He is riding the school bus one morning and is intrigued by a boy he spots, who is running shoeless in the opposite direction of the bus. He must find out who the boy is, why isn't he in school and why he doesn’t have any shoes. Maybe he needs help and Roy feels he is the man for the job. There are a few obstacles to overcome first. Dana Matherson is the bully on the bus who sets his sights on Roy, and Beatrice is the Amazon female soccer player who finds Roy an easy target for her teasing. In the end, Roy outsmarts both of them and helps save some valuable residents who would be doomed without him.

Set the Stage

Use some of these items to get the students ready to read.

  • Discuss the cover and title. Allow students to predict what they think the book will be about.
  • The setting takes place in a southern Florida town. Find out what the students know about Florida. (Climate, animals, plant life, etc.)


After reading the book, discuss the following:

  • Why do you think Beatrice allowed Roy to find out about her brother, Mullet Fingers?
  • Why didn’t Beatrice choose to do more to help Mullet Fingers find a better place to live?
  • What would you do if you were Roy? Why?
  • What would you do if you were Beatrice? Why?
  • If Roy’s father believed Roy was right in trying to save the owls, why do you think he kept the file about Mother Paula’s from him?
  • Do you think Mother Paula’s All-American Pancake Houses, Inc. had the right to build its restaurant on the property? Explain your answer.
  • Officer Delinko wanted to get promoted at all cost. Why do you think he didn’t arrest Mullet Fingers in the end?

Student Activity

In this activity students will discover some fascinating facts about Burrowing Owls.

Related Activities

To extend students’ enjoyment of the book, try these:

  • Standing Tall Against Bullies: Dana Matherson was a bad kid through and through from the way he looked, to the language he used, to the way he bullied everyone. Roy used his brains to eventually outwit Dana, although he was suspended from the bus and could have been seriously injured. Bullies are everywhere, even if they only a bully using words. They can be serious problems at school and shouldn’t be ignored. Have the class brainstorm ways to stop a bully like Dana. Have them look at the situation from different point of views such as the student who is being bullied, the ones who hang out with the bullies so they wonÂ’t be the one who is targeted and the others who stand back and don’t get involved because they are too scared. Invite your school guidance counselor or school law officer to be a part of the discussion.
  • Helping Endangered Animals: The Burrowing owls are protected in this story. Mother’s Pancakes could not be built as proposed because these owls made the land their home. Ask the students to find out about animals in your area that are endangered or protected. Have them research and put together a project such as a poster or flyer that tells about the animal and why they are protected. These can be shared and then displayed for other students to see. Some organizations have ways to “adopt” endangered animals to help protect them. Your students may choose to raise money so they can help.
  • Reporting the News: Ask the students to write a newspaper article for the Gazette about the groundbreaking fiasco of MotherÂ’s Pancakes. They should be sure to answer “who” “did what” “where” “when” “why” and “how.”
  • Who’s Your Hero?: In the book, Roy is the hero. There are other characters that helped him, but in the end, he used his brains to save the owls. Ask the students to think of someone they consider a hero. It could be someone they know personally or read about. Assign them to write about their hero and give reasons why they consider this person to be a hero.


Lesson developed by Kelley Raybon
Kelley Raybon has been teaching elementary school for 20 years. She is currently a curriculum resource teacher at an elementary school. She earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of Central Florida in Orlando.