Owly & Wormy, Friends All Aflutter!
Owly fans, rejoice! Now you get a chance to read an adventure of the adorable bird and his worm friend in oversized full color!
In conjunction with Top Shelf, Simon & Schuster, under their Atheneum Books for Young Readers imprint, has released this hardcover children’s book, Owly & Wormy, Friends All Aflutter!. It’s still by Andy Runton, it’s still the same little owl, it’s still almost completely wordless, and it’s still wonderful. It’s just bigger — which means easier to get lost in this glorious world.
It’s the end of the season, and the butterflies are departing. Owly and Wormy want to grow plants to attract them back. (I quite enjoy seeing how often they garden or otherwise interact with the nature around them. Their lifestyle, in tune with the seasons, is enviable.) They visit the nursery — an astounding two-page spread full of life and color — and buy a new flower bush, which they plant and tend. While waiting for the butterflies, they make new friends, two caterpillars who make a home in the bush. A story that revolves around plants is a great choice to put in color, as all the flowers and the greens are almost touchable.
Time passes, captured by a montage of playful images. The new friends read together, camp out under the stars, fly a kite, and even play chess together. While older readers will know instantly where the story is going, it’s still a very comfortable, entertaining ride. Because the characters express their feelings or conversation in pictograms, not words, the reader becomes more deeply involved as she tells herself the story of what’s going on. My favorite small moment comes when Owly has an idea. The thought balloon fills with a light bulb — and it’s a CFL!
Runton draws lovely, readable images, but he also pays attention to the details. We know one of the caterpillars is a girl, because she’s got the traditional cartoon pink bow on her head. But in the interests of fairness, the boy bug has a blue baseball cap. It’s not “boys are the norm, girls have an extra accessory to make them different” — it’s “each has a head decoration so everyone feels included”. And that’s my favorite part of all about Owly. Whether sad or lonely or happy or creative, Owly’s feelings are worth sharing, moments we all can relate to. (The publisher provided a review copy.)