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Owls by Gail Gibbons

For our nonfiction reading this week, one of the books my daughter selected was Owls, by Gail Gibbons. Gibbons is one of our favorite authors and we typically enjoy her informative and interesting books. This one is no different, as my daughter is a bit obsessed with both owls and Halloween right now.

The watercolor photos in the book are absolutely beautiful, and most of the book is written in such a way that children will enjoy a story rather than get bored with fact after fact—another thing that sets Gibbons’ books apart from other nonfiction children’s book writers. In the book, kids can expect to learn where the word owl comes from, the different parts of the owl, various types of owls, and many other facts about the birds of prey.

Kid will learn about how owls are nocturnal, as well as what they eat. There is a scene with an owl with a mouse in his beak that could disturb younger readers, though it’s not gory or anything. My daughter already knew what owls ate, so she wasn’t surprised by it; parents should just take notice if they have sensitive children. A painting of the owl capturing and eating a snake is also included.

One of the most interesting parts of the book for us grownups was about the owls’ hearing system, which was compared with a dish antenna. My daughter really enjoyed watching the owl’s eyes dilate between daytime and nighttime, and she was able to compare this with the way our cats’ eyes dilate.

The mating habits of owls are included, and they are so straightforward yet simple, without too many details, that I thought they were perfect for discussing the concept with young children. My daughter loved their cooing mating noise in particular and wanted to copy it over and over again.

Another very interesting part of the book discusses owl pellets, which are always a hit with kids (in fact, if you can get your hands on an owl pellet kit to dissect, that would go very well with the book). My daughter also loved learning about where different owls sleep—especially the elf owl, which slept in a cactus plant. Her favorite owl in the book was a snowy owl, which reminded her of “Harry Potter’s owl;” my own, of course, was the beautiful barn owl, which reminds me of Labyrinth. The book is really perfect for learning about owls, as well as starting owl projects on your own.