Tuesday, 17 May 2016

The Littlest Owl by Caroline Pitcher and illustrated by Tina Macnaughton

The Littlest Owl by Caroline Pitcher and illustrated by Tina Macnaughton is a picture book story about the trials and tribulations of Four, the youngest of four baby owls, who is 'so dumpy and small, a downy white ball.'

His three older siblings snatch the food before he can get to it and trample on him causing his Mum some degree of concern. Soon, the older owlets learn how to fly but Four can't quite manage it no matter how hard he tries.

Despite being smaller than his siblings, he doesn't give up. Like many younger brothers and sisters he wants to be just like his older siblings. This is something that children who have older brothers and sisters will probably relate to.

It would make a lovely read-aloud story for early years/foundation stage and has the clear message that we all develop at different rates. Children from year 1 up, who have successfully mastered phase 5 phonics, will be able to read the text independently. There are some items of vocabulary which children may be unfamiliar with and for that reason it would work well as a guided reading text.

Guided reading would also be an opportunity for teachers to scaffold children's emerging skill of inference. The character of each of the owlets is developed through the dialogue and discussions about how this informs us about their feelings will be instrumental in securing children's comprehension of the text.

The dialogue could also be used as a model for children's own writing. Pitcher makes use of a whole host of synonyms for said which children could collect. 

The illustrations complement the text. The owl's home glows with warm, golden tones. These contrast with the dark blue tones of the night sky.  The storm is depicted in greeny-grey blue tones and the ferocity of the storm is indicated by the sheer movement of the leaves in the trees and the swirls in the dark foreboding sky. The contrast from the warm, cozy glow of the Owls' home at the beginning of the story to the dark, menacing tones at the end would be good to use as a stimulus for discussing setting.

It would also be useful to read this alongside Martin Waddell's Owl Babies. Both are stories about a family of baby owls and whilst the themes and plots are different there are some similarities which could be explored.

Published: 2008
Published by:Little Tiger Press
ISBN: 978-1-84506-622-2

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