Arnold Lobel,
Owl at Home
(HarperCollins Children's Books, 1982)

Owl at Home by the late Arnold Lobel recounts the adventures of Owl in five gentle chapters. In the first, he invites Winter in to get warm by the fire, only to find out just how rude Winter can be. The second chapter concerns "strange bumps" at the foot of Owl's bed that disappear mysteriously when he looks under the covers. In the third chapter, Owl concocts tearwater tea by thinking of sad things and collecting the tears in a kettle, while in the fourth, he tries to be upstairs and downstairs at the same time. In the final chapter, Owl must discourage the moon from following him home, as sad as it is to part from a friend.

Although part of the "I Can Read" line aimed at beginning readers, Owl at Home works well as a read aloud. Beginner reader books use limited vocabulary and simple sentence structure; consequently, the text is often stilted sounding and the stories are simplistic. Lobel, however, demonstrates his love of language in the words he chooses: for example, Owl doesn't just have toast with his soup, he has hot buttered toast and soft green pea soup.

His quirky creativity shines throughout the book but is present especially in "Tearwater Tea." First, the concept of tearwater tea is remarkable in itself, but the sad things Owl thinks of to fill the kettle are especially memorable: pencils that are too short to use; songs that won't be sung because no one remembers the words; mashed potatoes that won't get eaten because they're too cold and lumpy and so on. The complete list of tear-inspiring items lends itself very well to a dramatic reading, and an inventive reader could make a game out of trying to think of more things for the list.

Lobel captures universal elements of childlike (not childish) thought. Owl tries to ignore the strange bumps in his bed, but in his mind they grow and grow until they're unendurable, and he solves the problem by sleeping in an armchair. What child has not been able to let go of an "irrational" fear of a shape in the darkness at some time? Who hasn't allowed problems to blow themselves out of proportion? In the last chapter, Owl believes the moon is following him; what child has not at some time thought the moon was following the family car? Although Owl tells the moon to go home, when it goes behind a cloud, Owl is sad, because it is always sad to leave a friend. Owl goes to bed, feeling forlorn, but his joy is restored when the moon shines in the window. Who has not experienced the happiness of seeing a friend return?

Lobel's illustrations pay as much attention to detail and tone as his text. Owl is surrounded by the little items that make a home, and he himself is portrayed as portly, comfortable, and a bit childlike. Owl's innocence is engaging because it is enhanced by just enough experience to give him an air of security.

I now give new parents a copy of Owl at Home, a decision I made while reading it to my own children, when I realized just how much I love this book. I think you will, too. Now, if you'll excuse me, there's some tearwater tea to attend to.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]

Buy it from




We are the leading the world in providing best lsat sample questions and ged practice prep solutions. Our incredible offers for cpt practice test and mcat classes are accessible at reasonable prices; our 70-432 is very rare in IT world.