I believe that I have mentioned before that once a month I pay a visit to a magical doctor who eases my sore muscles and arthritis and calms my worries. Dr Bruton has a magical assistant, Sarah. Sarah often talks to me while they are massaging and lasering and sticking needles in me. Sarah of the magical hands. During my last visit, Dr Bruton was waving his blue laser, magical wand around on all the stiff muscles and sore parts and I was just beginning to snooze and dream a bit about some serenity I have been encountering in my woods lately.
Lately, in the middle of the night, I have been hearing some rather loud, gentle Hoooooooing. Off in the woods behind our house. Surprisingly near. The Mom Person says that it comes from Great Horned Owls. I like the sound of these owls. They do sound so very serene. The Mom Person says that they are far from it and are hanging out at our house so as to eat our chickens. I couldn’t say about that. But anyway, I was laying there in that quiet doctor’s office thinking about that HOOOOOOOOOOing and Sarah with the magical hands said, “Owls?” I opened my eye and looked at my Mom Person. Had she been talking about our owls? No. She looked rather quizzically at Ms Sarah and said “What?” and Ms Sarah said, “Rhythm is talking about owls. Have you had owls at your house?” My Mom Person looked at Ms Sarah and looked at me and just shook her head in wonder. I smiled and went back to sleep. Ms Sarah always knows what’s going on. She’s magical.
by Jane Yolen
illustrated by John Schoenherr
published by Philomel Books in 1987
winner of the 1988 Caldecott Medal
Themes – winter, owls, nature, father/daughter relationships
Suitable for ALL ages, young and old
It begins –
It was late one winter night,
long past my bedtime,
when Pa and I went owling.
This is the book that comes to mind when I listen to our owl in the woods. It’s a rather popular book with my readers and I get to hear it quite often. It’s really a bedtime kind of story. Soft, and dark, and soothing. The narrator is a young girl going “owling” for the first time with her Pa. They tromp through the dark, quiet woods in knee deep snow. I have a hard time imagining that much snow! It’s cold, cold, cold. But a person must be quiet and brave when out owling. And they must make their own heat. The Pa and his daughter walk a long time hoping to see an owl. The Pa stops now and then to call out to the owls — Whoo-whoo-who-who-who-whooooooo. Finally, there is an echoing call — and there is the Great Horned Owl in all its dark glory!
Wow! We don’t have to walk very far to go owling, just out our back door. And we don’t have to tromp through any snow. But we have yet to see an actual owl. I’m happy just to listen and let that Hooooooing lull me to sleep. I think that these Great Horned Owls are rather large. Bigger than the vultures that fly around overhead all the time. A bird that big might be kind of spooky.
But there’s nothing spooky about this book. It is the height of serenity. The words and the pictures work together to entice you to be quiet and calm so the big bird will come. It invites you to savor the natural wonders in the world around us. And it celebrates the bond between a father and his daughter. A glorious book indeed.
Ms Yolen and Mr Schoenherr both took their kids owling. I think that everyone should try some owling! Out in the woods on a full moon night! What fun!!
You can find out more about Great Horned Owls HERE. And this link HERE also has a recording of that Hooo-Hoooing.
This KIDZONE link has some owl worksheets and activities.
Our science classes here at school always dissect owl pellets – the stuff that they throw up. The kids love doing this!
And here is what you might see if you get lucky!
Now be sure and go visit Ms Susanna Hill HERE and see her list of great Perfect Picture Books! It is Perfect Picture Book Friday after all!!!!