The Children’s Book Review | May 26, 2017
Story and Photography by Mary Holland
Age Range: 4-8
Paperback: 31 pages
Publisher: Arbordale Publishing (2017)
What to Expect: Nature, Baby Animals, Growing-Up
Otis the Owl lives in a tree hollow with his sister: a Barred Owl, Otis is just a baby and needs his parents to bring him food, protect him from danger, and help him to learn how to hunt and fly. From descriptions of Otis’ eating habits and daily behaviors, to discussion of his physical development, this book takes children on a journey through the childhood of a baby Barred Owl.
Otis the Owl combines beautiful close-up photography with a simple, engaging narrative style, creating a book that is both educational and interactive. Throughout the book, small chunks of text are enlivened with questions designed to encourage young readers to consider the similarities and differences between humans and owls, as well as to support the development of literacy and vocabulary skills. Also supporting literacy and vocabulary are helpful asides, teaching young readers more complex vocabulary choices through the use of synonyms: “nocturnal” for example, to describe the fact that Owls are active mostly at night. What I enjoyed most about this volume, however, was the matter-of-fact discussion of the fact that Otis is a predator: photographs show Otis consuming whole prey or prey which his mother has torn into pieces for him, while a quiz at the end of the book shows detailed photographs of the different animals Otis might hunt and consume. These details are not only fascinating but also an important antidote to the excessive sugar-coating often given to the natural world in fiction for children about animals and nature. The book finishes with informative facts about Owl anatomy and physiology, making this a valuable educational aid.
About Mary Holland
Mary Holland is a naturalist, nature photographer, columnist, and award-winning author with a life-long passion for natural history. After graduating from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources, Mary worked as a naturalist at the Museum of the Hudson Highlands in New York state, directed the state-wide Environmental Learning for the Future program for the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, worked as a resource naturalist for the Massachusetts Audubon Society, and designed and presented her own “Knee-High Nature Programs” for libraries and elementary schools throughout Vermont and New Hampshire. In addition to Animal Legs, Animal Mouths, and Animal Eyes her children’s books include Otis the Owl, A Beaver’s Busy Year and Ferdinand Fox’s First Summer (NSTA/CBC Outstanding Science Trade Books, Moonbeam Bronze award) with Arbordale and Milkweed Visitors, (Science Books and Films’ list for the best books of 2006 in the category Children’s Books under Zoological Sciences). Mary’s book Naturally Curious: a Photographic Field Guide and Month-by-Month Journey Through the Fields, Woods and Marshes of New England won the 2011 National Outdoor Book Award for the Nature Guidebook category. Mary lives in Vermont with her lab, Emma.
Otis the Owl, by Mary Holland, was reviewed by Dr. Jen Harrison. Discover more books like Otis the Owl by following along with our reviews and articles tagged with Baby Animal Books, Growing Up, Nature Studies, Non-Fiction, and Owls.