Owly & Wormy, Bright Lights and Starry Nights by Andy Runton
When the first Owly book came out years ago, I made sure to get it into the hands of my own reluctant reader. Unburdened by the need to read words, he immediately took to both Owly and Wormy. I’m happy to say that the series has continued to be just as good as that first book. Runton has started to do more picture book versions as well and this is one of those. In this book, Owly and Wormy go on a trek out of the woods and up to a hill where they will be able to view the stars better. Along the way, they get caught in a rainstorm and take refuge in a cave. There are strange and frightening noises and their telescope has disappeared! It will take real bravery and no fear of the dark to figure out what happened.
This wordless picture book relies on its illustrations to succeed. Happily, Owly and Wormy have a warm friendship that is evident from the very first page. Add the dash of darkness, the storm and a really dark cave and you have a real adventure. All of the content is ideal for the youngest independent pre-readers who will enjoy having a graphic novel of their very own.
Runton takes fear of the dark and the unknown and turns it into a chance to make new friends and see new things in this strong addition to a great series. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.
The Herd Boy by Niki Daly
Malusi looks after his grandfather’s sheep during the day, taking them grazing and also protecting them from predators. Malusi has to be able to work in the heat of the sun, keep the sheep away from the ravine, and keep close watch for snakes and baboons. His friend Lungisa is also a shepherd but he has his own dog, something Malusi wishes for. He also dreams of becoming something more than a herd boy, maybe even president!
Daly weaves in African details to create a setting and society in this picture book. The details are small but vibrant such as the food, the animals out in the wild, the landscape, and language. She uses a few words and phrases of throughout the book, just enough to add some African spices to the tale. Using poetic language, she draws the strong character and large dreams of Malusi clearly. He is a young hero with large responsibilities and a willingness to lead.
Daly’s art embraces the landscape of Africa with ravines and hills framing the page, eagles soaring in the sky, and distinctive plants in the foreground. There are full color images but also sepia toned ones that show small touches of the story as well. The large format of the full-color images make this book good for sharing with a group.
Thanks to the beauty and depth of Daly’s writing, this picture book trends a little older than many. It will also lead to interesting discussions with slightly older children. Appropriate for ages 6-8.
Reviewed from copy received from Eerdmans Books for Young Readers.