Owl Moon Review

Book Details

Written by: Jane Yolen
Illustrated by: John Schoenherr
Age Range: 3 and up
Publisher: Philomel Books
ISBN: 0-399-21457-7
Awards: Caldecott Medal


owl moon


“Owl Moon” is about a little girl and her father, who go owling during a full moon in winter. We learn more about the little girl through internal dialogue, as there’s no talking while owling.

The little girl and her father, after numerous owl calls, eventually hear a call in return. After a short time, a great horned owl appears and looks at them for a few moments before flying away.

The story ends with the father picking up his daughter and carrying her home through the snow.

What Worked For Me

The first thing that stood out to me is that the characters have to be quiet. It was mesmerizing to see how a sweet, strong relationship between a parent and child could be forged in an experience where they aren’t able to actually talk to each other. So much was said in what was unsaid between the two characters.

The book showed how the expectations of owling were set properly for the little girl before they left the house. “My brothers all said sometimes there’s an owl and sometimes there isn’t.” The adventure for the little girl isn’t so much about owling as it is having a special experience with her father.

I loved how the book used examples that kids can understand and relate to, such as “the snow was whiter than the milk in a cereal bowl.”

When you first hear the owl, you keep wondering when you’ll actually get to see it. The book keeps you in suspense and you want to keep turning the pages to see what will happen next. I genuinely love it when that happens.

The illustrations are perfect for this book. They really capture the essence of the experience. The author wrote the story in a way that allowed the illustrations to tell the story as well.

What Didn’t Work For Me

My only complaint is that sometimes the book doesn’t keep my kids as engaged as I wish they were. As they get older, I actually think the book will hold their attention better. The first time through, my kids were locked in. Re-reads is when they lost interest sometimes.

Re-Read value

Here’s the metric: As a parent, when your child asks you to read this book 3 or more nights in a row before bed, how likely are you to want to jump head first through a wall?

This book keeps you, the parent, engaged. Sometimes my kids would lose interest, though they do get excited to see the owl again during re-reads. I look forward to re-reading this book when my kids ask multiple times (within reason of course!).

Final Thoughts

This book is wonderful. One of my personal favorites. The relationship the father and daughter have is precious. The illustrations are perfect, the pacing is perfect, the way the daughter shows appreciation and respect for her father is perfect, the care the father shows his daughter is perfect. It’s a wonderful book. Read it to your kids!

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