Owls seem to be everywhere lately. First, my mother hit one with her car (true story; dont worry, it survived); then, days later, I saw this article about an owl that got stuck in a cars front grill. (Yes, I sent it to my mom to assure her she wasnt alone!) Now, the New York Times
has a piece about the mysterious, beautiful creatures that, they note, are staples of childrens books.
Why, I wonder? What is it about owls that intrigues us so much as readers? What makes them such kid-friendly, captivating characters? (And why the sudden resurgence?)
Obviously, one of the most popular fictional owls is Hedwig, Harry Potters companion owl. The Harry Potter series alone has numerous owl characters who support the story in multiple ways, including Errol, Pigwidgeon, and Hermes (all owned by various members of the Weasley family); theres even a dedicated Owl Post Office! And there are so many books featuring owls as main characters the Guardians of Gahoole series, Carl Hiassens Hoot
, and a load of picture books classics like The Owl and the Pussycat, Owl Moon, Owl at Home
. A quick search on the Scholastic Book Wizard yielded me more than 500 results for books with owl in them!
Well, it turns out, owls are kind of perfect for childrens books, precisely because of their mysterious ways (they always seem to be lurking in the dark, no?), and their amazingly cool history. Did you know they date back 60 million years (or longer!)? That means theres a lot of backstory writers can invent. I also learned from the NYT piece that theyre found in nearly every type of habitat, from tundras to deserts to forests to Central Park. There are more than 200 species, with more surely to be identified. And, of course, theyre oddly beautiful, with their big eyes and hypnotic songs.
Do you have a favorite owl in childrens lit?