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Owly Volume 1: The Way Home & The Bittersweet Summer: 06/04/10

cover art

The Owly books have been on my radar for a while. I remember reading a review of one of the recent volumes on a book blog I follow. What caught my attention was the sorrowful eyes of the titular character. That, and the fact that he's an owl. Owls have been a part of my life for almost six years now, ever since Sean first fell in love them as a toddler.

So you'd think Sean would be reading Owly too and when I originally checked out Owly Volume 1 by Andy Runton I thought he'd like to look at them too. Although he's still nuts about owls, he politely turned down my selection because the book has no words. I can understand, since reading comprehension and speed are two big concerns in school right now. A book without words to him seems counterproductive.

I don't however, need my children's approval to read a book. I still wanted to read Owly and did. Although it has no words, it isn't exactly a fast book to read. The two novellas, "The Way Home" and "The Bittersweet Summer" are as densely packed with emotion and pathos as a typical silent drama from the early days of cinema. Runton clearly understands the importance of the eyes in the conveyance of emotional states and Owly's eyes speak volumes as do the supporting characters.

In "The Way Home" Owly befriends a worm. You'd think an Owl would want to eat a worm but he's a very special owl. He's not a very owly owl, and that's part of his charm. He's an odd ball, somewhere between Charlie Chaplin's tramp character and the well meaning but off center characters that Buster Keaton played. The relationship between the worm and Owly reminds me most of all of the Chaplin film, The Kid (1921)

In "The Bitterweet Summer" the worm and Owly befriend a humming bird. Here Owly needs to learn the important lesson of knowing when to let someone go. Owly and the worm live in an area that has a harsh winter, not somewhere a hummingbird can stay year round, no matter how welcome he is. Seeing Owly come to the conclusion that he has to say good bye to his friend is heartbreaking and yet charming.

I plan to read the whole series. My local library has every volume except for two. Fortunately the books seem to stand alone so I can enjoy the others while tracking down the second volume.

The Owly series includes

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Comment #1: Thursday, May, 6, 2010 at 09:06:29


I managed to read Owly to my children by making an assortement of worldless noices — and somehow it was the first book that made my older son cry (which made me happy, because I think everyone needs to cry over a book at least once in their lives).

Comment #2: Friday, May 7, 2010 at 17:46:09


My daughter and I read it together. Mostly she looked at the pictures and explained to me the story as she understood it. My son though is at that age where he's not interested in picture books (even though he knows I still read them for fun). He's a lot like me in his reading tastes and his approach to reading. I think he'll come around the series when he's older and doesn't feel like he has to prove himself as a reader.

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