by Andy Runton
If Owly were cuter, this book would be unbearable. You’d get a toothache looking at it, if it were any sweeter. We are talking serious puppies!-level adorableness.
And I loved it.
Owly is the sort of friend you wish for when you are feeling lonely in the world.
Owly is, you may have guessed, an owl. He’s careful, he’s thoughtful, but other smaller creatures still have an instinctual fear reaction when they seem him. The birds that come to his feeder scatter if he gets too close; the worm parents whose child he saved and nursed back to health slam a door in his face. He’s a can’t catch a break kind of little guy, and that makes him endearingly human.
So he plods along and makes his own breaks, not giving up to despair and discouragement. There is fun, wonder, adventures, and humor in Runton’s mostly wordless stories.
Everything is there in the black and white images: shivering hummingbirds, tearful Owly with his hurt feelings, Wormy’s intent focus. The visuals carry the story because they are the story, and Runton knows it. Fortunately his art is more than up to the task. Panel layouts, flow, perspective, cartoony drawing style — he pulls it all together to create a whole believable world, where things move and change and make you feel.
This is an all-ages story. The fact that there is virtually no reading required does mean that younger kids can enjoy the book on their own, but any grownups in their lives (especially grownups who have their own comics habit) should read along with them. Simple, tender stories aren’t pitched to adults often enough, and you won’t want to miss this one.
Note: If this books sparks interest (yours or the kid’s you buy books for) you may also want check out Sara Varon’s Sweaterweather, another cute and all-ages appropriate book with friendship themes.