A couple of weeks ago, two of my nephews came over to play. My kids were in heaven, and I hardly saw any of them during the five hours they were here. But during one of the rare lulls in their play, I asked if they wanted to hear Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise. They did. And then once it was over, they immediately wanted to hear it again. I obliged, and they would have been happy to hear it a third time if I hadn't had to rush off to an appointment. It was definitely a fast-favorite, and I think you'll soon see why.
When the story begins, it is the middle of the night, and Hoot Owl is ready for his lunch. He's not too worried about finding it. After all, he's Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise. But after several failed attempts (where he disguises himself as a carrot, sheep, and then a bird bath), he's beginning to lose steam. Luckily, he has one final plan, and it is sure to succeed!
Because it takes place at night, an inky black backdrop is used throughout. The illustrations are big and bold and outlined in thick, chunky lines, which makes them pop out of the dark pages. They're the type of pictures kids take an instant liking to and will want to try and draw for themselves.
Hoot Owl has a lot of personality. For one thing, he's pretty full of himself but in an amusing, rather than obnoxious, sort of way. He has this habit of comparing himself to other objects, and it's just hilarious (he's like "a wolf in the air" and his eyes "glitter like sardines"). He might be a little overly confident in his skills, but you love him for it.
The story is told through a lot of repetition, and my kids (as well as my nephews) immediately latched onto this. By the end, they were all wanting to chime in and say the lines with Hoot Owl. For this reason, this really makes a great read-aloud (whether at home or in the car or at the library).
The ending though is what really makes this book fantastic. I don't want to give it away, but let's just say that after trying to catch a rabbit, a sheep, and a pigeon, Hoot Owl finally turns to something so tried and true that probably almost every parent has given into its simplicity and availability in a busy, starving moment. Don't worry, even Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise, knows that sometimes it's the only thing that will satisfy.
Many thanks to Candlewick Press for a hardback copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own, and I was compensated in no other way for this review. I know five little boys who will gladly listen to it over and over again.