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T’wit T’woo!

Maddy McClellan’s bemused-looking owls tumble through the pages in a short but sweet book for babies and toddlers.

“Owls in the kitchen, owls in the hall,

Owls playing with my shoes, owls big and small.

(…)

Owls reading lots of books, owls without a care…

Owls having hoots of fun, owls everywhere!”

Each little snippet covers a double page of cavorting owls in an assortment of colours.  They are stealing biscuits from the jar, peeping out of the teapot, wearing hats, sleeping in shoes, hanging upside down from lampshade, exploring the watering can and flapping around with balloons.  Although the rhyme is very short and simple, there is plenty to talk about in the illustrations and the overall design is bright, cheerful and comical.  Every child I’ve seen with this book loves it, especially the ‘dark’ page, consisting of nothing but a few hoots and some little orange owl eyes.

This is a great size and length for small children.  Small, square and robust, it is ideal for little hands, and it’s just the right length to be worth reading whilst still holding their attention.

A delightful little book for the very young.

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Owl Babies

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.