Mopoke, by Philip Bunting

This is a mopoke.

So begins this delightful, understated picture book featuring (as the title suggests) a mopoke – or  bookbook owl. Each spread features just one line of text – or even a single word, as the mopoke becomes a poorpoke, a poshpoke, and a range of rhyming ‘pokes’ – slowpoke, yopoke, crowpoke and so on. By the end of the book, the mopoke begins to look bothered, before squawking (hooting?) in frustration and flying away. Apparently, what the mopoke wants – peace and quite – is not going to be found on this branch.

The illustrations, on black backgrounds representing the night sky, are simple, with the mopoke seated on a single branch, a few stars in the background, and occasional appearances from other animals, including other mopokes and – surprisingly – a wombat, the surprise of which will make youngsters laugh.

Adult readers should find the repetition and simplicity  of the text an opportunity to use expression and encourage child participation. Creator Philip Bunting has written about this on his website.

Lots of fun.

Mopoke, by Philip Bunting
Scholastic, 2017
ISBN 9781742991658

Available from good bookstores or online.

The Silent Owl, by Sam McPhillips (ill) & Clemency Pearce

In the great, old hollow oak,
Lived an owl, who never spoke.

Owl doesn’t speak, doesn’t sing and doesn’t even hoot. All the other animals are worried. They would like a sign that Owl is all right. Finally, Owl does make a noise – by playing a series of musical instruments.

The Silent Owl is a gorgeous rhyming picture book, illustrated with paper collage and water colour backgrounds. The humour of the story, coupled with the big eyed characters will appeal to young readers, and the deceptive simplicity of the collage will entice young artists to experiment with collage themselves.

Lots of fun with early childhood readers.

The Silent Owl, by Sam McPhillips (ill) & Clemency Pearce
Big Sky Publishing, 2016
ISBN 9781925520019

Hootie the Cutie by Michelle Worthington ill Giuseppe Poli

Hootie the owl lived in enchanted wood.

She had big brown eyes as wide as saucers.

Her friends called her Hootie the Cutie because

she was the smallest owl in the wood.

Hootie the owl lived in enchanted wood.

She had big brown eyes as wide as saucers.

Her friends called her Hootie the Cutie because

she was the smallest owl in the wood.

Hootie the Cutie is the smallest owl in the wood and her wise owl father is determined to keep her safe. Hootie would love to join in some of the fun things happening in her magical forest. But comes a day when even Papa Owl is stumped. Something surprising and a little worrying is happening deep in the cave. Hootie is the only one brave enough, and small enough to investigate. She finds another small magical creature who needs help. Illustrations are full warm colour with loose drawn pencil characters, while Hootie herself is prominent in pink.

Being small, and possibly also because she is female, everyone seems to think that Hootie needs protection from the rough and tumble of everyday life in a magical wood. Certainly her father does. And while his protection is well motivated, it doesn’t allow her to develop her own skills or to take her own place in her community. Hootie is determined too and when her chance come, it is Hootie who shows great bravery in face of the unknown. Recommended for young readers and those who need to know that size doesn’t necessarily preclude bravery.

Hootie the Cutie, Michelle Worthington ill Giuseppe Poli New Frontier Publishing 2014 ISBN: 9781921928000

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s author and bookseller

www.clairesaxby.com

10 Hooting Owls by Ed Allen ill Simon Williams

Ten hooting owls lounging in the sun

Ten hooting owls lounging in the sun.

And if one hooting owl should go off for a run,

there’d be nine hooting owls lounging in the sun.

Ten hooting owls lounging in the sun

Ten hooting owls lounging in the sun.

And if one hooting owl should go off for a run,

there’d be nine hooting owls lounging in the sun.

The hooting owls are taking a break from their nocturnal activities and experiencing all manner of leisure pursuits. Ten begin their adventure (modelled on a traditional rhyme) and page by page, the numbers decrease until there are no hooting owls. All ten return in the final spread to settle in for the night. All illustrations are full page and cartoony in style. In this counting book the numbers are spelled out throughout, although the relevant number (symbol) is secreted on the page. Text is informal, with the number spelled out in different colour, larger letters.

These are owls of a different colour indeed. They are doing their thing in the middle of the day, are of all shapes, sizes, hues and activity. This is a comical counting experience that begs to be shared. Out loud. Sung. Children will chuckle at the antics, enjoy finding the hidden numbers, and fix numbers in their order. Recommended for pre- and early-schoolers.

10 Hooting Owls

10 Hooting Owls, Ed Allen ill Simon Williams Scholastic Press 2013 ISBN: 9781742836980

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

Available from good bookstores and online. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Apollo The Powerful Owl by Gordon Winch ill Stephen Pym

Apollo the Powerful Owl finished his supper and thought, ‘I must change my diet. All I do is eat … eat … eat nothing by meat … meat… meat for every meal.’

BURP!

Apollo the Powerful Owl finished his supper and thought, ‘I must change my diet. All I do is eat … eat … eat nothing by meat … meat… meat for every meal.’

Apollo has a moment of introspection and decides that it’s time to change his life. No more will he eat, eat, eat. No more will he frighten all the other forest occupants. And perhaps then he won’t be so lonely. So, day by day, he alters his diet and, he hopes, his life and position in the forest. But no matter how he tries, instead of improving his lot, his efforts seem to make him feel worse and worse. Finally he seeks counsel from a wise old owl. Only then does his role and his life make sense. Illustrations are full page and include many other forest dwellers. An information page at the end of the story provides more details about this threatened species.

Apollo wants to be more like the other animals in the forest and perhaps then they will be his friends. But it’s not as easy as that and Apollo discovers that he has a role to play in the ecosystem and that there are other ways and other places to seek friendship. It is a story about being yourself as well as discovering that everyone has a role to play in the world. There is opportunity to use this story in a classroom to introduce an Australian animal, an Australian environment, discuss food chains and ecosystems. Readers will empathise with Apollo and his need for companionship and will celebrate with him at the story’s conclusion/solution. Recommended for pre- and early-readers.

Apollo the Powerful Owl

Apollo the Powerful Owl, Gordon Winch ill Stephen Pym
New Frontier Publishing 2012 ISBN: 9781921928284

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

www.clairesaxby.com

Available from good bookstores or online.

Baby Tawnies, by Judy Paulson

As darkness falls, two tawny frogmouths fly into the forest to find food.
Far above the ground, four large eyes appear.
Lyla and Reggie are alone.

When their parents go out each night to hunt for food, Lyla and Reggie are alone. But instead of being afraid, or even waiting patiently, they use the time to discover what they can do for themselves – and eventually surprise their parents by learning to fly.

Baby Tawnies is a sweet picture book story about independence and courage, with a uniquely Australian take on the topic. The characters are tawny frogmouths, nocturnal Australian birds often mistaken for owls. Back of book notes provide further information about this unique bird. But it is the story which kids will enjoy. The baby tawnies are cared for by their parents, but it is when they are alone that they must find courage and support each other. It is lovely that it is the girl sibling, Lyla, who takes the lead and encourages her brother, in a subtle toast to girl power.

Also lovely is the artwork, with the characters rendered in felt with dark digital backgrounds refelcting the colours of the night. This unusual artwork is both endearing and clever.

A sweet book sure to be treasured.

Baby Tawnies

Baby Tawnies, by Judy Paulson
Random House, 2012
ISBN 9781742755762

This book is available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

The Staring Owl, by Luke Edwards

Owl took up staring at an early age.
While most parents discourage staring, Owl was raised to stare at everyone and everything.

Owl is fabulous at staring. His parents are proud but not everyone else is. He finds it tough to find a job, only partly because he has feathers. It’s his stare. It’s unsettling. Poor Owl despairs of finding a job. But when he has all but resigned himself to unemployment, he finds the perfect job. Illustrations are black and white and yellow, using graphite and Photoshop. The Staring Owl is a mid-sized hardback picture book, with a matt finish to the cover…except for those eyes. They shine.

Owl tries very hard to find a job. Although he has very well-developed staring skills, none of the jobs he considers are quite right. All use staring but not his unrelenting staring. And he feels a little victimised because he’s not human. But he finally finds his place. And having done so, he remembers what it felt like to be an outsider and he sets up a support group for those like him. This gently humourous story suggests that there is a place for everyone in the world, even if that place is not easy to find. It’s a lovely fable. Recommended for all staring owls.

The Staring Owl

The Staring Owl, Luke Edwards
Omnibus Books 2010
ISBN: 9781862919112

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author www.clairesaxby.com

This book can be purchased in good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Can I Cuddle the Moon, by Kerry Brown & Lisa Stewart

Can I cuddle the moon in the sky?
Give it a go, but I think it’s too high.

Little Owl is looking for someone or something to cuddle – could he cuddle the moon? A star? A butterfly? With each suggestions his mother answers gently, until Little Owl surmises that perhaps the answer is under his nose. In gentle rhyming text and with adorably soft illustrations, this is a perfect cuddle-time book.

Young readers will adore the mixed media illustrations, with intricate and intriguing use of collage bringing to life potentially fearful images of things such as snakes and crocodiles in a way which renders them gorgeous and adults will love the tender feel of both text and illustration, which make it wonderful to read aloud.

Divine.

Can I Cuddle the Moon?

Can I Cuddle the Moon?, by Kerry Brown and Lisa Stewart
Scholastic, 2010

this book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Five Little Owls, by Mark Carthew

Reviewed by Kathryn Duncan

 

Good rhyming books can be difficult to find but Mark Carthew has met the rhyming challenge with Five Little Owls. The rhyme and rhythm remind me of Julia Donaldon’s The Gruffaloand as a result, the reader is rewarded with a well written book where the words flow beautifully and musically off the tongue.

We join five little owls as they play hide and seeks across the pages with mice, frog, rabbits and bats. Young children can relate to the excitement of the game being played in the story and can join in the search for the animals as well as the delightful peek-a-boo ending.

Once again, Mini Goss’s illustrations have been perfectly paired with the text and are a delight to look at. The illustrations generate discussion between reader and child as they search the pages for the hiding animals, not only about which animals are hiding, but whether or not those animals are really owl’s prey. As always, if you want to get a feel for the characters, look at the eyes of Goss’s animals.

Five Little Owls will appeal beyond the pre-school age group it is intended for. It is a memorable for book for combining the simplicity of childhood games with the complexity of beautiful rhyme and illustrations. This book is destined to be read over and over again.

Five Little Owls Mark Carthew (text) and Mini Goss(illus)
New Frontier, HB rrp $24.95