Owly: A Time to Be Brave
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. A Time to Be Brave is 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.
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.