*Owly: A Time to Be Brave — Recommended

The fourth entry in the charming series about an owl and his woodland friends is another comforting tale about how being nice will save the day. It’s still told wordlessly, with the characters communicating in symbols, but they do read a fairy tale about a knight and a dragon whose text appears in the panels.

Owly: A Time to Be Brave cover
Owly: A Time to Be Brave
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Wormy, who serves the role of a small child (nice for reader identification purposes), is frightened by the story, so after reassuring him that it’s only fiction, Owly, Wormy, and some friends go outside to play ball to cheer him up. There are lots of explanation point-filled word balloons, showing the characters’ joy and excitement at their game. Owly takes on more of a parental role throughout this story, comforting Wormy, telling him that there are no such things as monsters, reassuring everyone that an injured tree can be nursed back to health, and investigating sounds in the night.

The main plot of the book revolves around a new introduction, an opossum, who scares Wormy, which results in a favorite plant getting broken. The title comes from the need for the little guy to face his fears in order to help someone and restore the natural order, and his bravery in turn inspires others. The love of nature and gardening has been a strong theme in this series, coming more to the forefront as it’s gone on. That green approach now extends to the book itself, which is printed on recycled paper.

For being wordless, the pages are full. A read demands attention, first to figure out what’s being shown and then to enjoy all the details around the edges. There’s even a flashback to the first book, recapping how Wormy and Owly met. I admit, I do wonder sometimes how the round Owly manages to accomplish everything he does, given that his arms/wings are too short to reach the top of his head (rather like Charlie Brown). Course, the real puzzle is how Wormy brushes his teeth, as shown, without any hands. But it’s fantasy fiction, with room for plenty of imagination. As always, it’s a recommended read for all ages, a quiet reminder of the virtues of friendship and doing one’s best and the rewards of caring for others.

The next volume in the Owly series, Tiny Tales, is due out later this month. It collects the various minicomic and Free Comic Book Day issues, making it easy for fans to find all of the character’s stories.


6 Responses to “*Owly: A Time to Be Brave — Recommended”

  1. Ed Sizemore Says:

    The fact that Owly hasn’t won every major comic and children’s book award still amazes me. I think that Runton is a vastly underrated genius of the genre. His artwork is a delight. I’m always sad when I reach the end of each new book.

  2. Journalista - the news weblog of The Comics Journal » Blog Archive » July 31, 2008: Comparing apples to Buicks Says:

    [...] Johanna Draper Carlson on Andy Runyon’s children’s comic, Owly: A Time to Be [...]

  3. Hal Shipman Says:

    Sadly, I gave this to my 4-yr old niece and she couldn’t follow it (early reader). When my brother tried to help her with it, he got confused by the narrative as well. I remember thinking myself that it might have been a little obtuse, but didn’t expect that reaction. I’m not really sure what’s up with that. I might try again when she’s a little older.

    She absolutely loves the Little Vampire and Barks Duck stuff, though.

  4. SPX Impressions » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] Runton signed my three Owly books and put a very nice sketch of Owly, Wormy, and friends in each book. He also gave me some [...]

  5. *Owly — Recommended Series » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    [...] fourth book in the series is A Time to Be Brave. [...]

  6. Andy Runton’s “Owly: A Time to be Brave” | The Knotty Pine Room's Blog Says:

    [...] Book Cover art from Comings Worth Reading, http://comicsworthreading.com/2008/07/31/owly-a-time-to-be-brave-recommended/ [...]




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