Friday, July 13, 2012

Owly: The Way Home and the Bittersweet Return by Andy Runton

Owly is a popular graphic novel at my library. I had to place a hold on it and I took that as a good sign, that kids must really like this book. I was not disappointed.

An unlikely friendship forms between an owl and a worm. Together, they search for Wormy's home and parents. In the second adventure, they befriend a pair of hummingbirds. Both stories focus on friendship as they help each other out of tough situations. Owly is particularly sensitive to his friends' needs. It's impossible not to love him.

Owly is nearly wordless but I was impressed with how Runton conveyed conversations and emotions. I "heard" their conversations in my head even though there weren't any words on the page. Instead of text, the speech bubbles hold pictures and other symbols. The artwork is skillful in conveying meaning. The simplest strokes, like the arch of an eyebrow, tell readers if Owly is thinking, scared, happy, etc. So, while there isn't much traditional text, I found I was scrutinizing the pictures and reading everything -- expressions, gestures, background and the "speech" bubbles. I'm not used to paying so much attention to the pictures but I really enjoyed doing so with Owly.

Owly is a great book to read with a young child to ask him/her "What's going on in this picture?" or "What are they saying now?" to help encourage a child's narration skills and to draw on their vocabulary to describe what's happening on the page. 

The artwork is as cute as the story. Runton's cartoon-like style and the brief use of text will appeal to reluctant readers and graphic novel readers. An innocent tale of friendship, I thoroughly enjoyed Owly.

Publisher: Top Shelf Productions, 2004.     Pages: 160
Rating: 4 Stars     Source: Public Library