Written by Sean Taylor and illustrated by Jean Jullien (Walker Books)
One of our favourite picture books to swoop onto the scene is Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise. Hoot Owl is a comically melodramatic hero on the hunt for food – disguising himself alternately as a carrot, mommy sheep, bird bath, and a waiter. Hoot Owl’s deadpan descriptions are rich, evocative and very funny: “The night has a thousand eyes, and two of them are mine. I swoop thought the bleak blackness, like a wolf in the air.” and “The shadowy night stretches away forever, as black as burnt toast.”
We love the use of so many new and unusual words and descriptions – which bring to mind a child dressing up in a tin pot waving a paper sword around shouting “I am a fearsome knight and I will cut the sky into a hundred pieces with my dangerous sword.” You feel like you’re playing along with his fantasy in the best possible way.
The deadpan humour might be a little sophisticated for younger readers – who also might not like the thought of the rabbit, lamb, and pigeon being eaten up – but Owl is really bad at dressing up and disguising himself so he can’t catch anything. Until he gets to the last unsuspecting prey… And don’t worry – your little ones will be cheering this one on!
A special mention for the comic-like illustrations by Jean Jullien – they perfectly support the quirky style with bold, flat graphics and saturated colours. Never have two round eyes expressed so much.
Check out the book trailer here.