There are any number of children's books that are written with the parents who are doing the actual reading in mind. Clever turns of phrase and subtle pop-culture references make the fortieth time through just a bit more bearable. Throw in a dash of dialogue straight from an old-time suspense-laden radio serial and a bumbling yet loveable hero/villain as the main protagonist, and you have got yourself a winner.
Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise is flat-out fun. The first time I read it through, my daughter asked me why I was reading it 'like that'. By 'like that,' I am assuming she meant my attempt to sound like an announcer from the golden age of radio, telling you to tune in next week to find out if our hero will indeed save himself from the jaws of death. But Sean Taylor's writing is so spot on that it begs you to do just that, much to the chagrin of the kids who just want to hear a story.
Even as Hoot Owl attempts to capture and eat an innocent bunny and a fluffy little lamb, you cannot help rooting for him and his ridiculous methods of capturing prey. He is hapless as can be, and everyone knows it but him.
The design of this book is bold, with more black backgrounds than any children's book I can recall. Jean Jullien uses a limited palette of strong colors very effectively—oranges, blues and greens jump out at you. He has a minimalist, slightly-ragged style which matches the text very well, putting the reader on edge, wondering what will happen next.
Intrigue, suspense, disguises and a creature of the night. I guarantee you that there is no book quite like this one on your child's bookshelf.
Title: Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise
Author: Sean Taylor
Illustrator: Jean Jullien
Publisher: Candlewick Press (2015)
Age group: Three to eight
Best for kids who: love owls, silliness, disguises
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Jean Jullien
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.