A baby owl struggles to learn how to hoot in this debut picture book.
At the end of a trail deep in the woods, a nest holds three perfect eggs presided over by a mother owl. She decides to name the owlet who hatches first Benjamin. (Thomas and Martin are hatched the next day.) Although Benjamin is the fastest, highest flier, and best hunter of any owl his age, he’s got a problem: He can’t hoot. When he tries, he reproduces other animal sounds he’s heard. His father is strict but encouraging: “ ‘No son of mine will be flying around the forest meowing like a kitty cat or singing like a chickadee,’ said Father Owl. ‘Keep trying, son. You can do it! I believe in you.’ ” Benjamin’s first efforts at proper hooting are hilariously mixed: “Cock-a-doodle-hoo! Hoot-a-dee-dee-dee!” But Benjamin keeps striving, and before long he’s hooting as an owl should. In her book, Becki Walsh offers a perfect read-aloud story. The repetition is very effective in building expectations and suspense for young readers, and the text supplies many opportunities for kids to join in on the animal sounds, which are bolstered by effective typography (the creatures’ vocalizations are in one font; Benjamin’s imitations are in another). Debut illustrator Madeleine Riley Walsh delivers attractive images with soft colors and precise linework. They deftly capture the animals, giving them expressive countenances that fit the narrative—for example, the cat’s inquisitive glance and Benjamin’s huge, staring, perplexed round eyes.
A charming animal tale about perseverance that has the feel of a children’s classic.