WHOO-OO IS IT? by Megan McDonald
Kirkus Star


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Just before dark, a nesting barn owl hears a faint sound, familiar yet mysterious. As night closes in, sources are suggested in a series of questions: Was it ""a mouse, scurrying...? Tch, tch, tch, tch..."" or, as the owl goes out to explore beneath a full moon, ""the whhoosh of a dragonfly's wings...?"" At daybreak, she discovers the true cause--her owlets are hatching. The mystery may be a contrivance, but it works well as a narrative device to link nighttime experiences. McDonald's poetic text is wonderfully full of words that evoke the senses--especially sounds: deftly mimicked voices (""Churrr, churrr,"" says the raccoon, while Father Owl cries, ""Kwa-kwa-hoooo. Hu, Hu, Hu"") and a wealth of other onomatopoeic words. Children will delight in chiming in, especially at the end when the sounds are reiterated, summarizing the owl's search but now understood as noises made by the hatching babies. Schindler's dark illustrations are outstanding. Almost drained of color, many of the double spreads are almost entirely black, with shapes barely suggested by delicate highlights, a starry purple sky showing through a crack in the barn roof, or the outline of a raccoon's mask. The effect is daringly dramatic and surprisingly legible from at least a short distance--which is fortunate, since the text lends itself so well to group interaction. An unusual, splendidly handsome book. For primary grades, try pairing it with Walter de la Mare's haunting poem, ""Some One.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1992
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Orchard