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HOOT OWL, MASTER OF DISGUISE by Sean Taylor Kirkus Star


by Sean Taylor ; illustrated by Jean Jullien

Pub Date: Feb. 10th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-7636-7578-3
Publisher: Candlewick

A confident owl employs ace hunting skills—sort of—to fill his tummy.

Hoot Owl’s hungry, but he isn’t worried, because he’s an excellent predator. His first quarry’s a “tasty rabbit,” wide-eyed and innocent. Hoot Owl has a special technique, which becomes a refrain: “Everyone knows owls are wise. But as well as being wise, I am a master of disguise.” He dresses up as a carrot and sets himself down. The bunny smiles in the carrot’s direction and hops away. Undeterred, Hoot Owl restarts the pattern, targeting a bespectacled lamb and a pigeon, to no avail. Hoot Owl talks a fierce and uproarious game—“I swoop through the bleak blackness like a wolf in the air”; “The lamb looks cuddly, but soon I will be eating it”—but he never actually attacks anything. He merely camouflages himself—but not really—and waits. Jullien’s bold, black outlines, expressive animal eyes and positioning (Hoot Owl is frequently sideways) hilariously complement Taylor’s text, which reveals the predator as both melodramatic (“The shadowy night stretches away forever, as black as burnt toast”) and unflustered. Rich, matte colors and a flattish, zoomed-in perspective of the nighttime scenes keep the vibe immediate and nonthreatening. Never fear: Hoot Owl’s “deadly-dangerous beak” eventually chomps on something that even squeamish readers will approve of.

A rib-tickling pleaser.

(Picture book. 3-7)