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Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen and John Schoenherr
Published in 1987, Owl Moon is a sweet story about a little girl and her father making the most of a clear, winter evening. The prose is simple, but evokes beautiful imagery of the countryside in winter. The illustrations won this title the Caldecott Medal for 1988, and it was featured on Reading Rainbow.
Owl Moon depicts a child and their father exploring the woods on a cold, winter evening, as they look for owls. The story is about a very special one-on-one bonding experience, shared between a parent and child. The two don’t talk in the woods, but the narrator tells us how she feels inside (special, loved) and outside (cold!). She tells us that this has become a tradition, almost a rite of passage, to have Pa take you owling. We learn that her older brothers have all gone owling, and she’s been looking forward to being told it’s her turn.
I love so many things about this book. The story is short, but conveys so much emotional and visual depth; using all five sense to make you feel like you’re on this walk, too. The pictures, of course, are gorgeous. One thing that will make this book attractive to all, is that you cannot tell from the story or the pictures that the narrator is a little girl. In the dark, her snow clothes might be pink, but they look red. Yolen deliberately did not give any indicators of gender in the text, to make it relatable to all children (a choice I wish she’d made in her How Do Dinosaurs books). If you’re looking to foster a love of nature in a child, this book is an excellent choice. It teaches them that patience is necessary to see extraordinary things, and to appreciate the look of winter trees, and moonlight on snow. Every time I read this story to my daughter, I come away flooded in my own vivid memories of being in awe of nature in the wintertime. This book is seasonal, but not based on any holiday, so it’s a perfect choice for reading together while under piles of blankets all winter long. I give this classic five eggs, and I hope it continues to be loved by many families for years to come.
Ariel’s Two Cents: I have yet to read Owl Moon with Bean. We read very few picture books at the moment since she still finds them delicious. But I cannot wait to break out my own copy from childhood. It is a classic for a reason and deserves all five eggs. Agreed, Brianna!
Yolen, J., & Schoenherr, J. (1987). Owl moon. New York, NY: Philomel Books.
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Ariel and Brianna are friends who met while working in a library. Now they collaborate to develop life-enhancing book club experiences.
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