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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 9 May 2001
Owl Babies by Martin Waddell is a lovely book for very young children. The story is about three baby owls, Sarah, Percy and Bill, who wake up in the middle of the night and find their mother is gone.
The book has a lovely rhythm to it, although it is not written in poetry form. It's more like a song, with a few gentle rhythmical lines, then one which cuts the rhythm and draws the child's attention, which is excellent for young heads and short attention spans. There are also a few rhymes thrown in which get caught up in the rhythm, and one particular rhyming couplet which is repeated throughout:
"The little owls thought -All owls think a lot"
Which is something for children to hang onto throughout the story. They can also learn to anticipate the second line and eventually join in.
The characters in the book are good too. As the Mother Owl is the only "grown-up" she can be replaced with "Granny Owl" or "Daddy Owl" as appropriate for your child and their main carer, or whoever they might identify this character with. The book is an excellent starting point for discussion with little ones, especially if they are worried about being left somewhere new, like school, nursery, or even at home with a baby-sitter when Mum goes out.
The three owls themselves each have different characters, and adults can easily change the names to match those of the young listeners. In the book, Sarah is the one who seems to look after the other two, so she is probably the older sister (or brother, if you call her Sam, like we do!).
Percy is a little bit younger, and looks up to Sarah for reassurance. I always read Percy with a high squeaky voice which goes down well with the bairns. Poor wee Bill only has one thing to say throughout (more repetition, which means more opportunities for anticipation and joining in). At the end of each page, Bill pipes up:
"I want my mummy!"
Of course the Mother Owl does return in the end, and this is the perfect time to confront any fears or worries in your little ones about Mum or Dad not coming back.
The illustrations, by Patrick Benson are quite dark and spooky, and in my opinion, more attractive to older children than those the book is aimed at. However, this book is available in an extra large size which makes the pictures much more attractive, with the Owls' faces jumping out at your child. Also available as a board book if you are looking for a sturdier copy!
If you are feeling adventurous, or are a teacher or playworker looking to do extension work on this book, there is plenty of opportunity for sensory exploration, especially looking at the materials which the owls' nest is made of (these are listed as part of the story). There are also the elements of birds, animal noises, owls, night animals and animal homes.
This is a lovely book for very young children... there is plenty in this book to make it a longlasting favourite for children and adults.
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on 18 June 2002
This story is about three owls and they wake up one night and their Mum went hunting for their food. They thought their Mum was gone so they went outside and waited on a branch. They were upset.
I liked this story because some parts were funny like when they jumped up and down on the branch when their Mum came back.
I would recommend this story to people who are under five years old because they would like the pictures because some of the pictures are funny.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 2 February 2016
Overview - A story about three baby owls - Sarah, Percy and Bill. One night they wake up to find that their mum had gone. The three owls become anxious and start to feel scared. They sit and wait on their branch until eventually their mum comes back. The baby owls are filled with joy upon her return.

Teachers/parents - This is a fab book to use with children who are feeling scared, or who are worried when their parents or care givers leave. In a reception class this would be a great book to use at the start of term when children are just starting school to make them realise that indeed they will not be living in school and that they will be going back to home that evening with their parents. It can offer reassurance!

Themes: emotions, overcoming fears, scared, returning from journeys, reassurance, owls, night time, Martin Waddell author day, families.

Activity ideas:
- Children could discuss and then depending on their ability, write or draw pictures of what they are scared of. They could then add information about how they may resolve that issue for example if they are scared of a monster under the bed then they could write a letter to that monster asking them to leave.
- Children could link this in with a topic about night life. They could look do a fact file about owls, foxes etc. They could go into detail and learn about owl pellets (we did that when in year5/6).
- Children could think of something they could give the owls to help reassure them e.g. what toy they would give up to someone who was upset.
- Children could link this in with a topic all about me and families. They could look at how family member may look similar or different to each other and then with other families.
- Children could discuss or write a story about where mother owl had gone to - what did she see? Did she feel scared? How did she feel leaving her three babies? How did she feel when she came back to them?
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on 11 September 2005
I did a stint of volunteer reading at a Junior School. This was the book all the kids picked - they love it! I buy it for all of my little nieces, nephews, friends children etc etc
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on 15 February 2008
which needs no formal introduction, from Martin Waddell.

This review is for the 1994/Walker Books paperback edition.

Larger size width, half height paperback with 32 high quality shiny pages in the popular 2-page spread format. Beautifully illustrated throughout, by Patrick Benson.

From the back cover:-

'On a tree in the woods. Three baby owls, Sarah and Percy and Bill, sit and think and wait for their Owl Mother to come home.'

"Touchingly beautiful....Drawn with exquisite delicacy...The perfect picture book....." The Guardian'

And the pictures are indeed wonderful, set in darker colours to represent the night time light.
Meaningful facial expressions add to the atmosphere and the story has a repeat element in the lines:-

(all owls think a lot)
and
"I want my mummy!" said Bill.

Clear light coloured text on the dark background with emphasised in places in capitalization or italics.

In my opinion, this book is particularly well set out with the text always being on the left hand page, so the younger reader is naturally drawn there on the turn of the page!

Example of text:-

'One night they woke up and their Owl Mother was GONE.
"Where's Mummy?" asked Sarah?
"Oh my goodness!" said Percy.
"I want my Mummy!" said Bill.

The baby owls thought
(all owls think a lot) -
"I think she`s gone hunting," said Sarah.
"To get us our food!" said Percy.
"I want my Mummy!" said Bill.......'

It is dark in the wood, so the three baby owls bravely stick together, sitting on Sarah's branch, as they ponder their Mum's absence.

All is well that ends well as Mummy swoops back to three excited owls 'flapping and dancing and bouncing up and down' on their branch!
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on 20 November 2008
When my son turned 2 our health visitor came to do the usual check up and gave him his Bookstart pack which included the delightfully colourful "cock-a-moo-moo" and the rather bland and dull looking Owl Babies. cock a moo moo was read again and again and I just assumed the "dull" illustrations and not so "loud" and rather "bounce-less" narrative of Owl Babies would not captivate him so it found its way to the bottom of the toy box until my son pulled it out one day and asked to have it read to him, after which we were both hooked! Now he is three and his little 1 year old sister also loves the book, its taught them that when mummy leaves its no big deal, and sometimes you may well b on your own, but at those times you look after each other (rather than pinching the other's toy the moment mummy walks out the room!). I was surprised at both my kids loving the book despite what I had written off as too scary a story (is mummy gone for too long?), too boring the narrative and too dull the illustrations.
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on 13 March 2008
'Owl Babies' tells the simple but wonderfully-illustrated tale of three little owls who wake to find their mother missing. During their eager wait for her return, they consider where she might be...except for Fred, the tiniest of the three, who is so upset he just keeps saying 'I want my mummy!'.

Though necessarily simple given the age of its target audience, this would be an immensely reassuring story to read to any child having to spend a little time away from his or her parents, or perhaps one who dislikes sleeping in a room alone. The element of repetition in little Fred's dialogue lends itself to 'playing along' and the illustrations really are outstanding.

I came across this beautiful book whilst waiting in a doctor's office, and I'm so glad I did - I'll certainly be buying a copy for my own child when s/he is born.
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on 16 January 2016
Bought for my little nephew as this was a huge favourite of my youngest son when he was small. A really cute story, nicely repetitive which little ones really enjoy. And of course, a happy ending! Might be worth rushing through it a bit at first if you have a little one prone to panic (as the baby owls are left alone, but mummy comes back at the end!). Such a cute story.
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on 4 May 2016
Such. Good book for under 5s. My daughter absolutely loves it and it's easy to follow so will try and pretend to read back to me.
It's been useful also trying to make her understand why some kids in her school have only mothers and no father- single mother concept as there is no papa owl in the book!
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on 10 January 2001
I bought this book after using it whilst on work experience in a nursery school. The children loved it, and it was invaluable for comforting a small boy on his first day who was worried that his mum wouldn't come back to get him. The illustrations are beautiful and highly original.
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