fiction favorites…Owls in the Family

owls in the family cover imageOwls in the Family, by Farley Mowat, illustrated by Robert Frankenberg

I shoved my hand under the brush and touched a bundle of wet feathers…There was the missing owlet, the third one that had been in the nest, and he was still alive.
He was about as big as a chicken, and you could see his grown-up feathers pushing through the baby down. He even had the beginnings of the two “horn” feathers growing on his head. A surprising thing about him was that he was almost pure white, with only small black markings on the ends of his feathers. When we found him he looked completely miserable, because all his down and feathers were stuck together in clumps, and he was shivering like a leaf.

 Billy and his pal Bruce live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, a town perched on the edge of vast prairie, where there’s more than ample room for rambling and adventuring. As he’s already the owner of  dozens of gophers, rats, snakes, rabbits, and one beloved dog named Mutt, it owls in the family illustration robert frankenbergsomehow isn’t surprising when Billy discovers and carts home an owlet orphaned by a storm.

One of the great things about this story, by the by,  is that he names the little fella Wol, after the Owl in Winnie-the-Pooh. 

Shortly after Wol joins the family, another forlorn owl is rescued, named Weeps. The hilarious bedlam that follows from having such a menagerie makes up this classic, semi-autobiographical novel by one of Canada’s most famous writers.

First published in 1961, Owls in the Family paints a picture of bygone years when children had an enormous amount of freedom to roam, when snagging gophers from the prairie and scrabbling up cottonwoods were great horned owlet from raptoreducationgroup at blogspotchosen pastimes rather than electronic entertainment, when lack of supervision meant a boatload of trouble, a lot of bruises, and plenty of fun.  Sure, some of these boys’ shenanigans are not advisable, but their exertions and enthusiasm are refreshing and funny just the same.

This book reads a bit like Henry Huggins’, in a more rural setting, and the wonderful ink drawings of Robert Frankenberg echo that same, nostalgic, 1950s feel.  The comedy of these completely out-of-control situations will please readers ages 6 through adult. Makes a great choice for a  read-aloud, spanning a wide age-range, or a fairly short novel for young-ish or reluctant readers. Add it to a summer reading list if you’ve not already read this one and be prepared to laugh out loud.

Here’s the Amazon link:Owls in the Family