On a cold winter's night, beneath a full moon, a young girl and her father trek into the woods to go owling. In a place filled with moonlight, mystery, and magic, father and daughter hope to catch a glimpse of a great horned owl. The poetic style of this 1988 Caldecott winner, along with the exceptional descriptions and illustrations, create a memorable evening in New England.
Behind The Scenes
Jane Yolen, who lives in Massachusetts, dedicates this book to her husband, who took all of her children owling. The story is filled with the sights, the sounds, and the feel of being outdoors on a cold winter's night in the northeast. It captures the excitement of going owling, and the thrill of actually seeing the owl.
Animal watching is a wonderful activity for adults and children to share. In each region of the country, there are exciting possibilites. In New England, whale watching and seal watching are popular. Massachusetts is the home of the New Bedford Whaling Museum and the whaling cruise boats that leave from Gloucester or Provincetown.
On a map, locate Massachusetts. Point out places of historical significance — Plymouth, Old Sturbridge Village, Concord, Lexington, and Boston. Call attention to Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Provincetown, and the Berkshires. Display maps, books, pictures, news clippings, etc. As a group, think of creative ways to gather and share information about this state.
Getting the Picture
Since this story is filled with such wonderful descriptions, use some memorable lines and phrases to create your own pictures. Enable students to make their own discoveries about how words can set the scene. On strips of paper, copy lines, phrases, or sentences from the story. Suggest that children select one strip, read the words, and create their own visual images. You might provide paper, crayons, markers, scraps of material or felt, etc., for the project.
Write a “How-to”
As a group, recall important story details that explain how to go owling. Tell how to dress, how to behave, the sounds to make, etc. Help children decide what's important and how to place these tips in the proper sequence.
Describe the Great Horned Owl
Use story details and information to compile a list of what you now know about this creature. Then, create a list of things you'd like to find out about this nocturnal animal. Students can work in pairs or small groups, to gather these facts. Then, they can share these findings with classmates.
Learn About Whale Watching
Ask students to imagine how they would feel as they waited to spot a whale. Talk about the thrill of actually seeing a whale swimming in the ocean. Then, fin out whether owling or whale watching would be more popular in your class. Ask, if they had their choice, how many children would rather go owling, and how many would rather try whale watching. Post the results.