By sticking to simple shapes and a bold palette, Haughton has created a debut that reads like a tattered old favorite. A single half-page shows Little Owl dozing off in his nest, then--once it s turned--bouncing softly to the forest floor. The animals who find Little Owl are flat, stylized creatures in jewel colors, but their eyes convey a wealth of feeling. Squirrel peers at Little Owl, his paws clasped in concern, his neck stretched out quizzically. My mommy is VERY BIG, says Little Owl. Yes! Yes! I know! I know! says Squirrel. Follow me.... Here she is. Here s your mommy. Squirrel points to an enormous teal bear, staring befuddled at readers. A few more cases of mistaken identity ensue before locating Little Owl s mother (careful readers will have noticed her seeking out her progeny). With instinctive skill, Haughton uses spreads of the forest to establish atmosphere and set up jokes, then delivers punch lines with spot illustrations that zero in on the animals dopey but lovable expressions. A promising first outing. Ages 2-up. --Publishers Weekly
In our world, understatement is becoming a lost art, and elegance a disappearing quality. This book has both, in Haughton s art and in the many production details not immediately noticeable. Block gloss letters form a vertical column above the main character s head on the cover, picked out in white in contrast to the quiet olive green empty matte background. A different design is on the rear cover, showing Owl atop his nest. Opening the book, a viewer notices the restrained endpapers in two shades of blue featuring simplified, decorative tree silhouettes. Close examination shows the back endpapers are similar but not identical, an example of the careful approach to exemplary design qualities. The half title page repeats the column of lettering, only this time in the olive green of the cover background, above the single figure of Owl facing into the rest of the book. The double spread title page introduces a vibrant new color, orange, with the olive green background to provide continuity. The action starts on the opening wordless, double spread, where we see mother and baby depicted in shades which are similar in intensity to the colors on the endpapers, but in this different tonality. A half page turns to reveal that sleepy baby has indeed bounced off his nest and then bumped along until he meets an inquisitive squirrel who tries to be helpful in reuniting the lost baby with his mother. On the search, other silhouettes of bear, rabbit, and different tree shapes add interesting complexity. Once again the design elements are worth noticing: the tree trunks provide strong rhythmic vertical accents. Throughout, large areas of highly saturated plain color or of the white paper focus viewer s attention on the design quality of the various animals. None of these turn out to be the owl s mother, despite the squirrel s good intentions. Finally a frog joins in the search, to help bring the missing mother and child back together. On that double spread, mother owl s comforting wings are stretched across the gutter to enfold her child. The exaggerated scale of the mother owl compared to the size of her baby emphasizes the strength of her comfort. All s well as mother and baby owl and their guests, squirrel and frog, enjoy cookies in the nest. Or is all well? On the last wordless page, it seems perhaps baby, precariously close to the nest s edge, has begun to doze off again, which precipitated the action at the beginning. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe s maxim, less is more, is certainly exemplified here. The bold, clean-edged, un-modulated saturated colors and bold use of empty space make for a dramatic presentation. The challenge for teachers and librarians will be to help children appreciate a book which doesn t scream aloud for attention. --John Warren Stewig, Carthage College --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.