In an attempt to understand how to handle plot, back story and character development, I am rereading Carl Hiaasen's books for children: "Hoot," (Newbery Award,2003) "Flush," "Scat," and "Chomp." There are three elements common to his work. One, the main character, always a decent kid, is confronted by a problem or challenge developing either from a family or school situation. He immediately elicits reader sympathy as he moves to solve the problem by himself, often against overwhelming odds. Parents and adults are present, but they are often feckless or have their own problems, or, are sometimes part of the problem. The main character loves and respects his parents but does not ask for their help. He is often protective of them. Supporting characters are edgy, weird and raunchy, definitely "over the top." Second, the plot moves quickly from the first chapter, often from the second page, and there are several threads, all connected with the main plot. As one plot solution develops, another problem arises, and another, until the final solution is reached. The bullies are "taken out," but they return again and again to attack the main character. Third, back story is inserted sparingly and intermittantly, often in a short paragraph, always from the protagonist's point of view. It is rarely presented in dialogue. Hiaasen's books feature south Florida environmental issues, and additional information is always necessary. It is done so well, the reader scarcely realizes he is reading it. I think these three points alone make Hiassen's work appealing to middle graders...and obviously to the Newbery Award Committee.