The best owl books

11 authors have picked their favorite books about owls and why they recommend each book.

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Owl Babies

By Martin Waddell, Patrick Benson (illustrator),

Book cover of Owl Babies

This book was a favorite of my children who are now adults themselves. They still remember reading this book. This year, in fact, is the 25th Anniversary of the publication of Owl Babies. The story is about a very big emotion for children and that is the promise that mommy and daddy will always come home. It is about three baby owls who worry that their mom may not return. She has been gone for a very long time and the babies are trying to be brave by imagining where she is and what she must be doing. The illustrations are beautiful and capture the emotions of the three baby owls. I love this book because it features babies, which babies can relate to. Babies worry and they depend on their parents to take care of them. The moral of this story is, “Parents, don't break your promises. Follow…

Who am I?

My name is Susan Marie Chapman and I am an award-winning Children’s Book Author. I have written over fourteen children’s books. I grew up on a farm surrounded by animals and nature and my seven sisters and brothers. Wow!! My goal is to get as many books into the hands of children that I possibly can. You see, reading books, especially picture books, is a way for a child to see the world through the pictures and words of a book. It creates imagination and excitement and fun and questions which lead to answers which makes you smarter. So read, read, read, until you run out of books, which will never happen.


I wrote...

Grumpy the Iguana

By Susan Marie Chapman, Natalia Loseva (illustrator),

Book cover of Grumpy the Iguana

What is my book about?

Grumpy the Iguana was a happy iguana until something happened to him that changed his mood from happy to grumpy. Grumpy’s life was perfect. He had a daily routine that was perfect for him. He had a perfect little tree home and he had neighbors and friends that loved him. This was Grumpy’s perfect life until his world was turned upside down. No one could say anything to make Grumpy feel better. Until one day he met someone that changed his life.

Owl Moon

By Jane Yolen,

Book cover of Owl Moon

Owl Moon is the poetic story of a young girl who, long past her bedtime, is going owling with her father on a winter’s night. It’s an adventure for the girl as she and her father, almost in silence, crunch over the crisp snow searching for the Great Horned Owl. The woods are lit with a winter moon "whiter than a milk in a cereal bowl." Eventually, their patience is rewarded as the owl lands on a branch right on the tree they are standing under. The father lifts the little girl, who is tired from the whole adventure, and they walk home. The beautiful watercolor pictures enhance the spare lyrical text, the dark woods lit by moonlight, and the brightness of the snow. It is a lovely text to read aloud, a plus for parents and teachers, and the relationship between father and daughter as he holds her hand…


Who am I?

I'm a British writer of children’s books and poetry. The books I've chosen are picture books with vibrant illustrations, instantly pulling the reader into the story. The fascination children have with the sky, the planets, and stars, I discovered with my own children, and now my grandchildren, who gaze, star-struck, at the moon through the windows and doorways. As an ex-teacher I've found that books with a story will appeal to children who are discovering cultures other than their own. There are many picture books with sun and moon stories like the one in Chandra’s Magic Light, and I've chosen those I find particularly appealing, as a mother, grandmother, and teacher.


I wrote...

Chandra's Magic Light: A Story in Nepal

By Theresa Heine, Judith Gueyfier (illustrator),

Book cover of Chandra's Magic Light: A Story in Nepal

What is my book about?

Chandra knows the magic of a solar lamp, a tuki, will light her family’s home high in the Himalayas and help her brother breathe easily at night. But how can she earn enough money to buy one?

The story is about solar energy, but it is also about a family who cares for each other. Life in a Himalayan village is evoked with luminous illustrations. In lush colors of a dream-like quality, Deena tells Chandra the story of Chandra the Hindu Moon God, and Surya the Sun God. There are back notes on life in Nepal making the book a useful addition to the school library as well as being an engaging story.

Tree

By Britta Teckentrup,

Book cover of Tree: A Peek-Through Board Book

There’s so much to look at in this beautiful book which follows a tree through the seasonal cycle. The gentle rhyming text is accompanied by colourful peek-through illustrations, with an owl cleverly joined by more and more woodland animals as the seasons turn towards midsummer’s night. I had to read this one again and again, following not just the tree but the foxes, birds, and even a spider’s web through the seasons.


Who am I?

I grew up in London, close to Richmond Park, where I got to know many of the characters who have since popped up in my stories. I bird-watched, caterpillar-collected, and pond-dipped, and my bedroom had a floating population of minibeasts. My first picture book, Fred and the Little Egg, was about a bear cub trying to hatch an acorn, and my stories have continued to reflect my love of nature. My Fletcher’s Four Seasons series follows a kind-hearted fox cub as he explores his wood through the changing seasons. I hope my books will inspire children to explore and care for the natural world too.


I wrote...

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves

By Julia Rawlinson, Tiphanie Beeke (illustrator),

Book cover of Fletcher and the Falling Leaves

What is my book about?

Fletcher and the Falling Leaves was inspired by my son asking me to fix a fallen leaf back onto its tree. Fox cub Fletcher is worried when his beautiful tree starts to lose its leaves. He does everything he can to save them, but it’s just no use. When the final leaf has ‘plipped’ off, Fletcher feels all hope has gone… until he goes back the next day and a glorious sight awaits him.

This tender, uplifting tale of friendship and hope, with glorious watercolour illustrations by Tiphanie Beeke, is the first book in Fletcher’s Four Seasons series. Kindness, nature discovery, and a sparkling surprise ending!

Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise

By Sean Taylor, Jean Jullien (illustrator),

Book cover of Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise

Can a picture book be any more dramatic! The title! Those eyes! Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise pairs Sean Taylor’s purple prose with Jean Jullien’s graphic characters against a sky, “as black as burnt toast.” Readers meet an owl who thinks that he is clever and stealthy enough to land himself a meal – Rabbit? Mutton? Pigeon? Or simpler fare? Look there – hungry owl schemes, dramatically!


Who am I?

I was born where the sun rose in the prairies and set behind the Rockies. Now I live on the West Coast of Canada. I am a picture bookmaker, and from my recommendations, you might think that I also have a thing for thieves: cupcake thieves, underwear thieves, hat thieves, chicken thieves, pie thieves. But I’m really here for the element of surprise and well-earned laughs in children’s picture books. They say comedy is hard, but comedy in picture books is even harder. These five picks are a great place to start if you like smartly silly picture books with a bit of off-kilter humor and a sense of irony. Bonus points for puns.


I wrote...

Boobies

By Nancy Vo,

Book cover of Boobies

What is my book about?

A cheeky celebration of boobies!

Meet the Blue-footed Booby, who does not have boobies at all, since only mammals have boobies. We learn that mammals have boobies to feed babies -- even though milk can also come from plants. And did you know that boobies, or breasts, vary from person to person, that boobies change over time, and that different animals have different numbers of boobies? Witty and wide-ranging, this eye-opening picture book goes on to explore connections between boobies and mountains, boobies and ancient art, and, of course, boobies and you!

Hoot

By Carl Hiaasen,

Book cover of Hoot

The renowned detective novelist brings his trademark snide sense of humor and gallery of hilariously twisted characters to Hoot, his first middle-grade effort and a Newbery Honor winner. Roy Eberhardt is a straight-arrow Montana transplant who finds himself face-to-face with real-world challenges and moral dilemmas after moving to Florida, where he teams up with a pair of quirky outsiders and a bumbling but well-meaning policeman to try to face down a greedy business owner who is about to destroy a burrowing owl habitat. Without resorting to facile moralizing, Hiaasen keeps the action light and fun while depicting Roy’s journey as he gradually learns how he might make a positive difference in the world.


Who am I?

Who indeed? I ask myself that question often. Metaphysical issues aside, I guess you could say I’m a jack-of-many-trades in the writing department. I’ve been known to author stage plays (The Potman Spoke Sooth), write and direct feature films (Night Visitors, The Road to Flin Flon), compile and edit baseball anthologies (The Cubs Reader, A Blue Jays Companion), and do a bunch of contract writing and editing for a variety of publishers. And oh, yes: I wrote a middle-grade novel, Raising Rufus, about a boy who discovers his inner hero while raising...well, a very unusual pet.


I wrote...

Raising Rufus

By David Fulk,

Book cover of Raising Rufus

What is my book about?

In the unremarkable town of Menominee Springs, Wisconsin, lives an eleven-year-old explorer named Martin, who one day stumbles across something remarkable. It's an egg. But not just any egg—a dinosaur egg. And a week later, Martin becomes the proud parent of... a Tyrannosaurus rex!
 
Can Martin save Rufus from his parents, his neighbors, and most importantly, the owner of the town carnival? With the help of his best friend, Audrey, and his science teacher, Mr. Eckhart, Martin must uncover his inner hero and find Rufus a home, even if it means losing the one thing he's come to really care about.

Owls in the Family

By Farley Mowat,

Book cover of Owls in the Family

Though we will never have inside pets because of allergies, my family thoroughly enjoys this true story centered around a family raising two owls (and a variety of other wild animals). This story showed a supportive family as the parents not only endured a continuous round of new pets (including a meal interrupted by one owl dropping a dead skunk on the table) but also assisted Billy in his early zoo-keeping habits. The hilarious slices of life had us in stitches. I especially love the relationship between the owl—Wol—and Billy’s dog.


Who am I?

I am the mother of six and a voracious journaler. I am also a novelist. Though I’ve found that the facts of family adventures are often more fascinating than fiction. I bring in-the-moment observations as well as decade-seasoned insights to the world of family life. I also love reading about other families with all their quirks and joys. 


I wrote...

When I Was a Pie: And Other Slices of Family Life

By M.L. Farb,

Book cover of When I Was a Pie: And Other Slices of Family Life

What is my book about?

Most stories end with Happily Ever After. This one starts with it.

These are slices of life in the form of short stories, musings, comics, and poetry—showing bright moments, soul pondering, frustrations, and side-aching laughter. Join our family as we play compliment tag, create piano calls, and cut a crawl hole in the bathroom door to rescue a toddler. It is life, lived in the moment and observed. Welcome to the eclectic joy we call our family.

Abracadabra!

By Maria Loretta Giraldo, Nicoletta Bertelle (illustrator),

Book cover of Abracadabra!: The Magic of Trying

One aspect of accepting imperfection is to recognize that new skills take practice. In this sweet tale, Little Owl believes he should automatically possess the ability to fly. His woodland friends teach him that practice and effort are required. The abracadabra magic turns out to be persistence in the face of failure. Young readers will embrace the “try, try again” message. This charming story and delightful illustrations will resonate with young children. There is also a note to parents and caregivers by a psychologist that delves into raising kids to develop perseverance.

Who am I?

I am a child psychologist and an award-winning author of several books for children and teens related to emotions, behavior, and the science behind them. I believe children love to see themselves in books and to learn about others. Making complex information clear and watching children light up with understanding is my goal for every book I write.


I wrote...

What to Do When Mistakes Make You Quake: A Kid's Guide to Accepting Imperfection

By Claire A. B. Freeland, Jacqueline B. Toner, Janet McDonnell (illustrator)

Book cover of What to Do When Mistakes Make You Quake: A Kid's Guide to Accepting Imperfection

What is my book about?

Explorers investigate places they have never been before. These explorers might take a while to make their discoveries. They might have trouble understanding their maps. They might make wrong turns. They might need to start their expedition all over again! If explorers could not accept their mistakes and keep going, they might never make any discoveries! Does this sound like you? If you have trouble accepting mistakes, if you try to be right all the time, or if you worry about being less than the best, this book is for you!

What to Do When Mistakes Make You Quake guides children and their parents through the emotions underlying a fear of making mistakes using strategies and techniques based on cognitive-behavioral principles. This interactive self-help book is the complete resource for educating, motivating, and empowering children to cope with mistakes — so they can explore new territory without fear!

My Best Friend

By Rob Hodgson,

Book cover of My Best Friend

Some of my favorite books are ones where the text is saying one thing and the pictures are saying something completely different. I also adore books where the reader is in on a secret from the very beginning. My Best Friend does both. It’s told from the perspective of a mouse who is describing their “best friend” Giant Owl. The reader knows Giant Owl is planning to eat Mouse, but Mouse is blissfully ignorant. You can’t help but laugh as Mouse recounts their playful games of hide-and-seek, and then praises Giant Owl’s generosity in giving him as many donuts as he wants. The ending is surprisingly sweet, but it leaves open the possibility of a darker future. By asking kids what they think will happen next, you prolong the fun and spark their creativity. 


Who am I?

Three of my favorite things are reading, writing, and laughing. So, of course, my favorite books are usually the ones that make me giggle. I also have a slightly dark sense of humor which means I have a soft spot for books where one of the characters may get eaten. But I think the very best books are ones where unexpected friendships occur instead. So often our perceptions about others are wrong, and if we just take the time to get to know the animal (or person) behind those extra sharp teeth, we may find we have more in common than we realized. 


I wrote...

My School Stinks!

By Becky Scharnhorst, Julia Patton (illustrator),

Book cover of My School Stinks!

What is my book about?

Dear Diary, Today is the first day at my new school and I think there’s been a mistake. My deskmate stinks, my locker buddy bites, and my teacher is unbearable! I told Mom my classmates are WILD ANIMALS, but she said all little kids are wild animals. I think I’m going to be sick tomorrow.

This hilarious back-to-school story is about a young boy who accidentally ends up at a school for real animals. When Stuart first arrives at Wildwood Elementary, not even deep breaths and happy thoughts can calm his nervous jitters. Stuart does his best to avoid his wild classmates, but soon learns friends come in all shapes, sizes, and species. 

The Owl Service

By Alan Garner,

Book cover of The Owl Service

The haunting themes and mood of The Owl Service lodged themselves in my imagination when I first read it as a teenager and there they stay, decades later. I’ve returned to its mysterious and beguiling world several times since then, and on each occasion, the book has immediately woven its old spell around me. It is rich in Welsh magic as the past is played out against the backdrop of the present, and a hidden collection of plates decorated with what might be a pattern of owls becomes something far more potent and sinister. This is one of the books that first introduced me to the mysteries of landscape, the power of the past, and the enduring life of myths.

Who am I?

I have always tuned into the atmosphere of places. Sometimes this is a joy and sometimes it’s a very different experience, but either way, it’s a fundamental part of me. It spills over into my work, too, because each of the thirty-odd non-fiction books I’ve written has its own strong atmosphere. I was particularly aware of this while writing Red Sky at Night, as I wanted to evoke a sense of the past informing the present, whether that means planting a shrub to keep witches away from your front door or baking what I still think is one of the best fruit cakes ever.


I wrote...

Red Sky at Night: The Book of Lost Countryside Wisdom

By Jane Struthers,

Book cover of Red Sky at Night: The Book of Lost Countryside Wisdom

What is my book about?

Have you ever enjoyed a picnic in a field or lazed quietly in a garden or park while watching the clouds scudding above your head, bees nosediving into flowers and birds coasting along on thermals? Have you ever gazed up at the stars at night, marvelling at what you see, or drawn your chair up closer to a log fire while knowing that humans have been doing this for millennia?

Then this is a book for you. It evokes that sense of having a fundamental connection with nature and your surroundings, whether you’re in a town, city, or the countryside. Red Sky at Night also describes many of our country's customs and traditions that have all but vanished but deserve to be remembered.

Night Train

By A L Snijders, Lydia Davis (translator),

Book cover of Night Train

Impulse and happenstance set the syllabus of my reading, and so it was that, shortly after reading Lydia Davis’s Madame Bovary, I chanced to see a notice for her rendering into English, from the Dutch, a selection of the very short stories written by the late A. L. Snijders. He wrote plainly, eschewing elegance and complications of form and syntax in favor of simple sentences that laid out, in workmanlike prose, his casual, wry observations of, and on, his fellow Dutchmen, Dutch women, and also Dutch animals, of whom he was fond. Here is no Modernist heroic ambition, no Postmodernist archness, no posturing, or overbearing intellectual or moral superiority. He wrote thousands of his peculiar miniatures, we are told by Davis in her foreword on the writer and on the problems of translation in general.

Those she chose for Night Train rise above anecdote or sketch, despite their Dutch…


Who am I?

I have written stage and radio plays, poetry, short story collections, and, beginning in 2013, novels that comprise The American Novels series, published by Bellevue Literary Press. Unlike historical fiction, these works reimagine the American past to account for faults that persist to the present day: the wish to dominate and annex, the will to succeed in every department of life regardless of cost, and the stain of injustice and intolerance. In order to escape the gravity of an authorial self, I address present dangers and follies through the lens of our nineteenth-century literature and in a narrative voice quite different from my own.


I wrote...

American Follies

By Norman Lock,

Book cover of American Follies

What is my book about?

Narrator Ellen Finch recalls, from the vantage of twenty years after the madness of 1884, her months spent as a stenographer-typist for Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, the most powerful voices in America’s Woman Suffrage Movement, as well as her friendship with the diminutive Margaret Hardesty, one of P. T. Barnum’s “eccentrics.” In a delirium resulting from a postpartum infection, Ellen imagines that she, Margaret, and the two suffragists travel aboard Barnum’s train from New York City to Memphis to rescue her infant son, whom the Klan abducted and intends to sacrifice as the product of free love and miscegenation – or so it appears in the complex delusion in which the novel unfolds. In its review, The Washington Post called American Follies “provocative, funny, and sobering.” (Published in 2020 by Bellevue Literary Press.) 

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