In this debut picture book, young readers are asked to assist an owl host with a thorny problem.
Owl is giving a surprise birthday party for Mouse, and readers are invited. But, oh no—his glasses are broken, and he needs the audience to help him identify guests at the door. First, Owl hears a reveler coming: “Splish…Splash…Flap…Flap,” for example, or “Hiss…Hiss…Slither…Slide.” Then Owl provides some rhyming clues based on noted characteristics: “Who has yellow feathers? / Who has splashy feet? / Who says QUACK QUACK / with their smiling little beak?” or “Who has a scaly diamond back? / Who looks like the letter S? / Who says Hisssss / …and is the LONGEST of our guests?” The answers are rewarded with Owl’s enthusiastic responses: “Exactamundo!” “DING! DING! DING! Correct!” As each partygoer arrives, the animal’s special sound is added to a list, from “Hoo hoo!” to “Squeak squeak!” for the guest of honor. Not only that, Owl gets a new pair of glasses. With all the sound effects, repeated hoo’s and who’s, the final shout of “SURPRISE!” when Mouse arrives, and the overall guessing game, Maier and Horton’s tale makes for a fun read-along experience for adults and children. The attractive, scribbly pen-and-ink plus watercolor illustrations are a nice change from the usual primary colors. Dominated by pale blue, orange, peach, and gray, they are dynamic with repeated circle shapes.
A rewarding read-aloud with enjoyable question-and-answer rhythms and bubbly, festive animal illustrations.