Monday 14 March 2011

The Staring Owl

The Staring Owl written and illustrated by Luke Edwards (Omnibus for Scholastic Australia
HB RRP $22.99 
ISBN 9781862919112
Reviewed by Dawn Meredith.

A singularly unique book, this volume grabs you straight away with its cover – an owl with huge, staring, golden eyes. The size of the book (208x135) is a very comfortable format and the matte finish works well with the glossy yellow eyes.

Owl is a born champion starer and finds it difficult to understand why people object to something he thinks is perfectly natural. In looking for employment he considers the Air Force, becoming a therapist or a spy, but each of these jobs has its limitations for someone who loves to stare, unblinking, for hours. The only sanctuary he finds is in the art gallery. Until one day…

Edwards’ style of illustration reminds me of Matisse. Heavy charcoal  lines, simple shapes, good solid composition. The only colour on each page is reserved for Owl’s staring eyes. I found by the time I reached the end of the story my eyes were wide open and my brows raised. Hilarious!

The writing is unpretentious, humorous and emotionally accessible for children:

          Unfortunately, most people aren’t used to being stared at. Owl’s piercing gaze could make them very uneasy. It was hard for Owl too. Everyone treated him like some kind of weirdo.

You get the feeling Owl knows what it’s like to be on the outer social rim, looking in, bewildered. Many children may relate to this feeling. I know I do! I did enjoy this book and I think its quirky subject matter make it fun to read.

Scholastic provide teacher’s notes written by Anita Jonsberg which can be downloaded here:

Dawn Meredith writes from the Blue Mountains. She was awarded a May Gibbs Writer’s fellowship in 2011. You can follow her exploits here:

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