A poetically inclined owl learns to accept his calling.
In Kousky’s picture-book debut, Otto the oddball doesn’t roost or hunt like other owls, quietly preferring to read, befriend mice and recite poetry. When other owls in Otto’s neck of the woods discover his eccentricities, they mock him. Sensitive Otto decides to run away rather than endure their teasing and soon finds himself so lonely he composes his own poem inspired by the moonlight. When he recites his poem aloud, Otto discovers a group of field mice who have been listening and now clamor for more. Emboldened by a willing audience, Otto begins to recite Joyce Kilmer and Emily Dickinson, coming to the realization that “[p]oetry should be shared with everyone.” Such affirmation does Otto a world of good as other owls begin to find his proclivity for reciting T.S. Eliot, Robert Louis Stevenson, Christina Rossetti and the like to be infectious. Kousky’s mixed-media, digitally rendered spreads warmly depict an animated Otto and friends against the inky backdrop of the forest’s night sky. They visually encourage young readers to explore poetry as a way into relationships as opposed to isolation in a solitary creative world. Though quite Frederick-like in its poetic lure, Kousky’s individualistic paean to the communal power of art is not without its own charms.
Simple and clearly told, with a wonderfully engaging protagonist. (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)