HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Owl Babies
Author: Martin Waddell
Illustrator: Patrick Benson
Publisher: Candlewick, republished in 2010
ISBN-13: 978-1564021014 (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1564021017 (Hardcover)
ISBN-13: 978-0763650421 (Paperback)
ISBN-10: 0763650420 (Paperback)
ISBN-13: 978-1564029652 (Board book)
ISBN-10: 1564029654 (Board book)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 3 and up
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
Disclosure: Any books donated for review purposes are in turn donated to a library. No other compensation has been received for the reviews posted on Home School Book Review.
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Waddell, Martin. Owl Babies (published in 1992 by Candlewick). Who could resist the adorably cute little owls on the cover of this Candlewick Storybook Animations book? Three baby owls awake one night to find their mother gone and wonder where she is. What is she doing? When will she be back? What scary things move all around them? Sarah, the largest, thinks that she is out hunting for food. Mid-sized Percy agrees, but tiny Bill will only repeat, “I want my mommy!” They wait for their mother to return from her night flight and are rewarded, greeting her with joyous flapping, dancing, and bouncing. Martin Waddell’s simple text with its easy repetition, as well as Patrick Benson’s stunning woodcut-like pictures in black ink and watercolor of fluffy, wide-eyed owlets from unique and striking perspectives as they worry about their mother and the use of light-colored text against a black background all work together make this sweet story of young ones who miss their mother into a hauntingly lovely book.
While the subject appears to be about baby owls, the apparent purpose of the book is to demonstrate mother love and reassurance, especially for kids who may suffer from separation anxiety. The vast majority of people who provided reader reviews loved it, but a small, yet quite vocal, minority thought that it was too scary for little ones. One even wrote, “The worst part is that it gives the impression that mom will sneak out during the night without so much as a goodbye–I don’t personally know a good mother that will do that as it just increases the anxiety experienced by a child.” Well, this book is about owls, and that’s what owl mothers do. They leave at night to provide food for their babies. We used this to supplement our younger son Jeremy’s science studies about birds. If scariness is a problem, it can be explained while reading. Or if young ones are especially sensitive, the book might not be appropriate for them but reserved for later years. Also, one professional reviewer felt that the text was too spare, but many readers said that despite the brevity and simple vocabulary, one gets a real sense of the different personalities of the owl babies. A board book version is also available for little ones.