Owl T. Fencepost’s adventure begins when the fusty bird attempts to order How To Soundproof Your Forest Dwelling from the catalog of a nearby, squirrel-owned bookshop.
This very funny sendup of epistolary novels combines understated text with hyperbolic yet charming art. Distinctive voices and a large format make it perfect for reading aloud. When Owl pens the initial letter from “Top of Oak / Near the Clearing / and the Noisy Small Animals,” the letter details why Owl requests that particular book: “so that I might read in peace, alone.” The bird sits at the writing table, amid books and a quill pen in its inkwell, with large pillows deployed to muffle the noise. The formal letter appears opposite, on the recto. The following double-page spread follows this format, with a bespectacled squirrel searching colorful stacks on the verso. Concluding with the titular words, B. Squirrel signs the formal, regretful reply that the book is out of stock. Owl’s next request—for a handbook on moving to a remote island—is instead met with a gift: a book promoting life in the woods. Throughout, the pen-and-ink sketches with watercolor show a multitude of feathered, furry, and shelled neighborhood children, continuously—and sometimes rambunctiously—interacting with a bird who repeatedly declares a desire for solitude. The wise squirrel, whose signature familiarizes into Bessie over the course of the letter exchanges (by literal snail mail), recommends books that lead to positive changes in everyone’s lives.
A delightful tribute to books, friendship, and company.(Picture book. 4-8)