When large numbers of owls invade a village in northern Canada, an old man named Jake is the only one who knows how to dispel them. Ancient Jake is avoided as a bore with one subject; but he has not only befriended owls but learned to control them with a mysterious authority that seems half magic, half tall-tale--hence his title, long forgotten by the village folk. The metaphor for the value of wisdom lost with the passage of time is evident. More important, the story serves as a vehicle for McCurdy's elegantly detailed wood engravings, with decorative feathers contrasted with a stark northern landscape, rectilinear interiors, rugged faces, and ubiquitous owls. The dry wit of this understated tall tale may not appeal to all, but it should evoke chuckles from many; those drawn to the illustrations should be rewarded with heightened visual awareness.