Owls are stealthy predators known to swoop through the night to surprise unsuspecting prey. This isn’t quite the case with Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise. In this clever book for preschoolers, Hoot is as cute as can be, with bright, bold and simple illustrations by French artist Jean Jullien.
Although Hoot fancies himself to be fierce, he is mainly hungry and melodramatic. Imagine this deep-voiced, deadly serious avian narrator announcing, “The darkness of midnight is all around me. But I fly through it as quick as a shooting star.”
Hoot Owl is a perfect read-aloud, begging for over-the-top theatricality as its hero repeatedly announces, “I am Hoot Owl! I am hungry. And here I come!” He disguises himself as a carrot while trying to catch a rabbit, and as a mother sheep when trying to catch a lamb—all with no luck. Next, his pursuit of a pigeon is equally unsuccessful (perhaps because his strategy is to hide and wait instead of actually attacking).
Despite repeated failures, Hoot remains undaunted. His self-confidence and unwavering tenacity bring to mind the character of Phil Dunphy in the TV show “Modern Family.”
Happily, Hoot eventually manages to catch his final prey, but only after zeroing in on quite the unexpected target―a final quest that youngsters are bound to enjoy.
This simple story packs plenty of punch. Hoot Owl is a comic, suspenseful tale that will no doubt be a hit night after night.