Based on an actual occurrence, this picture book tells the story of a short-eared owl—a marsh and field dweller—that lands on an oil-drilling platform far out in the ocean.
An owl is found on the deck of an oil rig in the North Sea, miles from its native habitat of fields and marshes. The exhausted bird is cared for by the riggers until a helicopter bringing in the new work shift and supplies takes the owl back to land and to a bird-rescue facility. There, the owl is cared for and eventually released back into the wild. This simple home-away-home story is delivered in author Vande Griek’s emotive, poetic text, the spare words of which, surrounded by the white of the page, conjure up a powerful sense of place and action: “No place to rest, / no mouse to hear, / only the swing, / the roar / of the sea.” Illustrator Wallace’s command of the difficult watercolor technique in depicting the powerful heave and growl of the sea is exquisite—the two full-page bleeds of open ocean seascapes (some crossing the gutter) delight the eye. Alas, the illustrations depicting the oil rig and its somewhat racially diverse workers are less graceful, competent but not transcendent. The final page gives an informative overview of the habits of short-eared owls and lists sources and further reading.
This home-away-home story takes flight with its poetic text and a few extraordinary seascape illustrations. (Picture book. 3-8)