FIRST CAME THE OWL by Judith BenÇt Richardson


Age Range: 9 - 11
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 When Mah-jah (Mom in Thai) is hospitalized for depression during a cheerless Cape Cod winter, Nita is taken in by her best friend's family, the kind, calm Stillwater clan. Nita's American father, a ``perfectly polished'' Coast Guard lieutenant, is at a loss himself to understand his wife's illness and escapes to sea. Nita surprises herself by landing the lead in a fifth-grade production of Snow White. (``She'll have to be Snow Brown,'' she is teased.) Playing Snow White lost in the woods (``like her mother must have felt when her family hid from the soldiers . . .'') or lying in her plastic coffin, Nita begins to feel her mother's profound isolation--``a wall of plastic between her and the rest of the world.'' Nita takes the advice of a family friend to speak Thai to her mother, who responds (a little conveniently) in time for Nita's school performance. In another satisfying development, Nita tells off her father to good effect. Like its heroine, this story has quiet strengths and makes for thoughtful and rewarding reading. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1996
ISBN: 0-8050-4547-3
Page count: 53pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1996