The Little Owl & The Big Tree: A Christmas Story (Jonah Winter & Jeanette Winter)

Hello friends! Our book today is The Little Owl & The Big Tree: A Christmas Story by Jonah Winter and Jeanette Winter, the true tale of a little owl and a big adventure.

Once upon a time, there was a little owl – a northern saw-whet owl, to be exact – living in a small hole near the top of a very tall tree. She didn’t have a name, as wild things rarely do, but she was happy and peaceful in her quiet woodland home. That is, until the day the voices and noises came. Suddenly, the little owl found her tree felled, wrapped up, and driving for many hours on busy highways. Where is she headed? When will she get there? And will she find her way back to the wild?

A complicated story covered with delicate grace. Based on the true-life story of Rockefeller the owl, who was discovered during the preparation of the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in 2020, this sweet story of nature and man colliding takes an interesting direction on its subject. The gentle and easy-to-read text tells the owl’s story with fondness yet pragmatism. Humans are not portrayed as monsters for messing with Rockefeller’s natural habitat, nor as heroes for rehabilitating and releasing her after her ordeal. Rockefeller is never overly personified or anthropomorphized, and the audience is repeatedly reminded that she is a wild creature and is meant to be returned to nature (which she is, though not to her home). It’s an oddly bittersweet tone that actually works perfectly for the story itself, encouraging readers to consider how humans impact the wilderness, for better or worse. The artwork is well done, using color and energy to reflect the owl’s moods rather than facial expressions, keeping with the story’s themes. The length is perfect for a storytime, and JJ enjoyed the soft illustrations and adorable owl. A complex book, and one definitely worth checking out. Overall, Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Sunny The Owl’s Search For Bedtime Stories (Zornitsa Ivanova)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Sunny The Owl’s Search For Bedtime Stories, written by Zornitsa Ivanova and illustrated by Santhya Shenbagam R., a sweet story about a young owl’s love of reading.

Each night, Sunny the owl’s mommy reads him a story. All the books are filled with the things a young owl should know. Sunny loves them, but after a while he begins to tire of hearing the same books each night. His mother suggests that he talk to Bobby the squirrel – perhaps he has some books to borrow. And indeed, Bobby has lots of fun books about being a squirrel, just as Sweety the bluebird has some about bluebird life. Both friends lend their books to Sunny, who devours them each bedtime. Once he’s run out of books again, Sunny wants to read and know more – what is he to do? His mommy mentions a little white house at the edge of the forest, where a little boy’s mommy reads him a new story every night…

Wonderfully sweet. A simple, classic story dedicated to a thirst for reading hits all the right beats, including some clever ones about not being afraid to explore a diverse range of books and subjects, and how people who love stories can bond over sharing them with friends or even strangers. The illustrations are a bit rudimentary, with passable character design yet scenes that lack a sense of depth, and a color scheme that wavers between pleasantly bright or simply garish. One truly enjoyable element, however, is the tie-in reading lamp (sold separately), shown in the photos over JJ’s shoulder. The author does a wonderful job of weaving the lamp into the story in a way that is subtle and endearing, but does not require the lamp for enjoyment of the book. It’s a truly clever addition to the story that then becomes something the reader can enjoy with any other book in their library. Otherwise, the length of the book was fine, and JJ did enjoy it. A bit rough around the edges, but a fantastic story that encourages a love of reading and books in a multitude of ways, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book and its tie-in merchandise was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Brave Enough For Two (Jonathan D. Voss)

Help, friends! Our book today is Brave Enough For Two by Jonathan D. Voss, a tale of friendship between a girl and her stuffed owl.

Olive and Hoot have been best of friends forever, even if their interests occasionally differ. For instance, Olive prefers the adventures found in books, while Hoot yearns for something more. One day, Hoot encourages her to join him on an adventure and, while she has some safety concerns, Olive agrees. First they fly high in the air in a balloon-powered basket, then a boat trip down a fast-moving current, both making Olive nervous. Each time, Hoot guarantees their safety and promises that, as long as they are together, they will be okay. But as the day winds to an end, the pair realize they are lost and far from home, and Hoot has torn a hole and lost some stuffing. Suddenly, Hoot doesn’t feel so brave. Seeing her friend’s fear, Olive realizes that courage isn’t just being fearless…

This is a soft and gentle friendship story with a nice lesson in courage. While I feel like Hoot could have been more considerate of Olive’s fears and concerns, I did like the lesson that bravery and recklessness are not the same thing – Hoot is quite bold, and good to encourage his friend to be brave as well, but he is also quite foolhardy. Olive, however, finds her bravery when others need her, showing a level head and a comforting presence when crisis strikes. It’s a subtle way of showing little ones the different types of bravery, and I liked it. The art is simply gorgeous, weaving charming windswept characters into open-skied rural landscapes that evoke a nostalgic sense of childhood wanderings. The length is fine, and JJ enjoyed Olive and her little owl friend. A quiet tale of courage and friendship, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Little Owl’s Night (Divya Srinivasan)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan, a sweet story of a young owl’s wanderings after dark.

As night sets over the forest, the nighttime animals awake, including Little Owl. He is happy, because he loves his forest home at night. He excitedly flies off to see his friends and neighbors: a neat line of possums climbing the trees, the silvery dust shaken from the wings of the moths, the croak of the frog and the chirp of the cricket. He revels in the beautiful full moon, even attempting to wake Bear so he won’t miss it (but of course, Bear is fast asleep). No matter: Owl spends the night taking in the beautiful sights and sounds of his forest as he wonders: could daytime possibly be as lovely? He asks his mother to tell him about morning time, but as she describes the dawn, Little Owl has fallen fast asleep just as the sun begins to rise.

This is a lovely bedtime book for little ones with a lot going for it: the high-contrast, simply illustrated animals are great visuals for young bookworms, and the story is sweet, soothing, and filled with innocent wonder. It’s a great way to explore nocturnal animals as well. The length is perfect for even the very young, and JJ always enjoys the art, especially as she learns to identify the animals. A simple, gentle and calming tale of a forest at night, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Hoot Owl, Master Of Disguise (Sean Taylor)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Hoot Owl, Master Of Disguise, written by Sean Taylor and illustrated by Jean Jullien, a fun and silly frolic through a night with the mighty hunter, Hoot Owl.

Hoot Owl is on the wing, cutting through the dark night like a very sharp thing would. For he is the fearsome hunter Hoot Owl, and he is hungry. And when he finds his prey, he will know just what to do: he will sneak up on them, donning one of his many brilliant disguises. But for some reason, his meals-to-be keep slipping away. Certainly, they couldn’t be recognizing that the giant carrot or ornamental bird bath sneaking up on them is actually Hoot Owl, master of disguise! Could they?

This was a great tongue-in-cheek book about a cluelessly hubristic owl, and it was a delight to read. As Owl’s prey, and his disguises, become more and more ridiculous, it’s easy to laugh along to his inflated sense of pride and overly-enigmatic self-descriptions. The art is just perfect for baby bookworms, with bright bold colors and thick outlines defining easily recognizable characters. The length is great, and JJ really enjoyed it, especially the art and Owl’s swaggering dialogue. This one was a lot of fun, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!