Three baby owls – Sarah, Percy and Bill – wake up one night to discover that their Owl Mother has gone. They think very hard (“all owls think a lot”) but can’t decide where she may have gone to. As time passes, they become very nervous about what may have happened to her. They huddle together on the same branch (looking rather fluffy and cute) and wish. And of course, because this is a picture book and a fox would not be allowed to eat Mother Owl, she comes home.
This is a ‘nice’ book. There is a lovely lilt to Martin Waddell’s text – “soft and silent, she swooped through the trees to Sarah and Percy and Bill” – and some effective patterns in the structure. Each time they talk, Sarah says one thing, Percy says another, and Bill says “I want my Mummy!”. Young children will enjoy the repetition and will especially like the joyful reunion at the end: “Mummy!” they cried, and they flapped and they danced and they bounced up and down on their branch.” The illustrations (by Patrick Benson) are quite realistic and detailed and the fuzzy little owls fill most of each page.
Because of the theme of separation and reunion it might be a good choice to read to a young child before they go to nursery or preschool for the first time. The book has a celebratory feel to it at the end, after the owls’ worried little vigil. It is a sweet book with a positive message and although it is not especially clever or memorable, it does have a certain charm.