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Owl Moon

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Late one winter night a little girl and her father go owling. The trees stand still as statues and the world is silent as a dream. Whoo-whoo-whoo, the father calls to the mysterious nighttime bird.

But there is no answer.

Wordlessly the two companions walk along, for when you go owling you don't need words. You don't need anything but hope. Sometimes there isn't an owl, but sometimes there is.

Distinguished author Jane Yolen has created a gentle, poetic story that lovingly depicts the special companionship of a young child and her father as well as humankind's close relationship to the natural world. Wonderfully complemented by award-winning John Schoenherr's soft, exquisite watercolor illustrations, this is a verbal and visual treasure, perfect for reading aloud and sharing at bedtime.

32 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 1987

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About the author

Jane Yolen

883 books2,872 followers
Jane Yolen is a novelist, poet, fantasist, journalist, songwriter, storyteller, folklorist, and children’s book author who has written more than three hundred books. Her accolades include the Caldecott Medal, two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, three Mythopoeic Awards, the Kerlan Award, two Christopher Awards, and six honorary doctorate degrees from colleges and universities in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Born and raised in New York City, the mother of three and the grandmother of six, Yolen lives in Massachusetts and St. Andrews, Scotland.

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5 stars
21,748 (50%)
4 stars
12,241 (28%)
3 stars
6,699 (15%)
2 stars
1,629 (3%)
1 star
843 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,500 reviews
Profile Image for Muhtasin.
182 reviews643 followers
January 6, 2021
Owl Moon by Jane Yolen

It is a sweet and poetic story that tenderly describes the friendship between a father and his daughter. And as well as the close relationship between the human world and nature. It would be a great feeling to read this at bedtime. John Schoenherr's did an excellent job in watercolor illustration. His exquisite watercolors made the story more wonderful.
When you go owling you don't need words or warm or anything but hope.

Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,012 reviews97 followers
January 29, 2018
This book is a Shabby Sunday feature @ https://readrantrockandroll.com/2018/...

Owl Moon is a striking story that takes you on a journey through the winter woods in search of owls. The little child has been waiting to go owling with Pa for a very long time. The story rather reads like poetry.

"Our feet crunched over the crisp snow and little gray footprints followed us. Pa made a long shadow, but mine was short and round. I had to run after him every now and then to keep up, and my short, round, shadow bumped after me."

John Schoenherr's illustrated imagery paints the perfect winter impression and this is a ideal book for bedtime that highlights the companionship between parent and child. Our copy is an old Scholastic paperback edition from 1988. It’s in fairly good shape with clean pages and one to keep.

Profile Image for Starjustin.
91 reviews254 followers
January 28, 2018
A beautiful children's book with wonderful water color illustrations throughout. I loved the story and recommend this vintage book highly.
Profile Image for Tina Haigler.
288 reviews95 followers
March 27, 2019
I honestly love this book. It's been one of my favorites for a long time. It was passed down from my oldest daughter to her sister; both read and reread it over and over. The story is lovely with a father and a son actually going out into the snow to try to spot an owl. I never did this as a kid but I think it's a wonderful idea. I honestly wish we lived near woods because I would do this as a family with my children. It makes me remember when I was young and we would do fun things that didn't involve a TV or computer screen. The art is hauntingly beautiful. I love the contrast of the colors with the white of the snow and the dark of the forest. It was quite striking. I highly recommend this to children ages 8 to 12. Children younger than this would benefit more from it being read to them due to word count.
Profile Image for Jasmine from How Useful It Is.
1,214 reviews334 followers
November 28, 2017
Read for my son tonight as a bedtime story. What a beautiful story! Father and daughter quality time. Hiking in the snow and into the woods looking for owls. Her Pa tells her to be silent when go owling. Her Pa makes the whooo-whoo-who sounds to call the owl out. I love the illustration! Snow covered landscape, winter wear on the girl and her dad, and the woods' shadows are gorgeous to look at. I highly recommend this book for father and daughter!
Profile Image for Calista.
3,792 reviews31.2k followers
April 20, 2018
Honestly, at the start of the book I was fooled. As the characters spoke of owling, I assumed they were hunting the owl. I was preparing myself for either death or the kid saved the owls life. It goes to show I haven't heard of owling. Imagine my surprise and relief when I found out what owling really is. I was elated. Owling is wonderful and I would like to do that one snowy night someday.

The art was lovely, simply magic. I love that quiet softness of snow. The kids had read this book before but they enjoyed reading it again with their aunt. My nephew had to hold a hooting contest and the kids had some good hoots.

There are so many good stories out there.
Profile Image for Diana | Book of Secrets.
766 reviews556 followers
February 20, 2020
A father and daughter take a nighttime walk through the snowy woods in hopes of spotting an owl. Poetic and peaceful. ♥

{Olathe Public Schools Core Literature List, Grade 2}
Profile Image for Ronyell.
956 reviews319 followers
April 12, 2015

I have actually read this book when I was a child, but now I have finally got the chance to re-read this book again! “Owl Moon” is a Caldecott Medal award winning book by Jane Yolen along with illustrations by John Schoenherr and it is about how a young girl goes out with her father to see an owl and experiences the magic of looking at owls all in one night. “Owl Moon” will easily be treasured by many children for years to come!

One late winter night, a girl and her father decided to go out to see an owl by walking through the frosty woods together and the girl marveled at everything around her when they went through the forest. When the girl and her father were a good ways into the woods, the father starts making hooting noises like an owl, but no owl came. So, the girl and her father continued into the forest until…

Read the book to find out!

This book was just simply amazing! The true highlight of this book was Jane Yolen’s beautiful writing as her writing adds a dreamlike and poetic feel to the story. Jane Yolen has effectively detailed the young girl’s experience with exploring the forest with her father to see the owl and I also loved the way that Jane Yolen made this story be told from the young girl’s perspective as she sees the winter world as a magical experience for her and therefore. John Schoenherr’s illustrations are simply beautiful and mesmerizing as they detailed the true wonder of the forest during wintertime. The images I really loved were of the images of the snow covering the grounds and the trees as it made the forest look like one big white world and I also loved how realistic looking the trees were as they twisted and turned on every image. Another aspect that I loved about this book was the perfect combination of Jane Yolen’s writing with John Schoenherr’s illustrations as they both tell the story effectively, such as for example, in this passage:

“Our feet crunched over the crisp snow and little gray footprints followed us.”

And the image shows the young girl and her father leaving footprints in the snow as they walk through the forest.


Overall, “Owl Moon” is definitely a book worth reading during the winter holidays and children who love reading about owls will definitely get a kick out this book! Now for my recommendation, I would recommend this book to children ages four and up since there is nothing inappropriate in this book.

Review is also on: Rabbit Ears Book Blog


Profile Image for Manybooks.
3,007 reviews104 followers
July 7, 2016
As a teenager (after we had moved to an acreage outside of Calgary, Alberta), I used to go out by myself on cold and clear winter nights with binoculars to observe the moon and stars and listen for coyotes. Reading this lovely little gem of a picture book (and looking at the snowy and peaceful illustrations) gives a similar sensation, cold, yet warm all the same, silent, mysterious, where every sound (and even the very silence) is music and the atmosphere pure delight. Both Jane Yolen's narrative and John Schoenherr's luminous "winter wonderland" illustrations perfectly, descriptively and caressingly capture the quiet, the peacefulness, the mystery of the winter woods at night, a luminous marriage of text and image (and I can certainly and appreciatively understand how and why Owl Moon won the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1988).

While I do not see much wrong with the father imitating the owl's calls to attract it, I tend to think that using a flashlight on the owl is perhaps potentially harmful, as I believe this could temporarily blind it (and I definitely did not enjoy that part of Owl Moon quite as much). Now these are just my personal feelings and considerations, and I am definitely no zoologist. However, just like deer can easily be blinded by car headlights, I do have to wonder whether owls might not experience something similar if a flashlight were suddenly directed at them (after all, they are mostly nocturnal animals and their eyes are thus suited for hunting prey at night, something that a bright artificial light might well disrupt). But while this small issue does bother me a bit, otherwise Owl Moon is simply loveliness personified, evocative, atmospheric (and a for the most part peaceful, non violent and non interfering way to enjoy the outdoors, to enjoy our feathered friends, simply by observing, watching birds, especially when one considers that until relatively recently, birding often consisted of collecting nests, eggs, and hunting/shooting birds, then stuffing and mounting the specimens).

Profile Image for Trish.
1,846 reviews3,363 followers
January 20, 2019
A very simple but very calming and soothing tale of a father who takes his smallest child into the woods, owling.

The story is told from the girl's perspective and through her eyes we see and hear and smell the woods, feel how the trees make her feel, and learn what is most important when owling.

Thanks to the illustrator, we get to almost feel the cold and hear the crisp white snow, we see the massive dark trees and since all illustrations are nicely detailed, there is always an animal to discover somehwere (you just have to be quiet enough).

Perfect story about the bond of a family to one another as much as to nature itself and definitely the perfect story to read while snow is covering the world outside.

Profile Image for Karina.
765 reviews
March 5, 2022
"Si quieres escuchar el ulilar de los buhos,
tienes que guardar silencio
y generar tu propio calor."

The Caldecott Medal- 1987 (And well deserved)

So I homeschool all three of my kids 12, 7, 5. As a language we read Serbian Cyrillic books and Spanish. This is one of the Spanish translation books I found at the library. The illustrations are a beauty and the poetic style of the writing is enchanting. My kids took turns reading a page (except the five-year-old) and we all agreed it was a good pick of a book. We liked the relationship the dad had with his daughter and their finding an owl and the silence it took.

Would recommend
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,373 reviews1,103 followers
March 13, 2015
Lovely art and a poetic story about a young girl who goes owling with her father. very picturesque and even though I have never been owling, this makes it sound mysterious and fun.
While some kids may find this boring, take your kids out into the woods or something one night to look for nocturnal animals. Then read this just to add and compare the experience. Lots of fun for the kids. Otherwise I advise, older, patient kids for reading this book.

Again, lots of praise for the artwork. It was beautiful and told a story all it's own. We could practically feel the cold, nippy air while reading this!
Profile Image for Kathryn.
4,140 reviews
December 2, 2010
I really enjoyed this story of a child's first time searching for owls with Father. It brings a beautiful sense of nature and a cold winter night, made warm by the camaraderie of the pair and the child's excitement at finally being able to accompany father on this "grown-up" adventure. The writing style was my favorite part--I thought it was very lyrical and I really enjoyed some of the diction selections; it was unusual without being jarring and really helped convey the mood, IMO.

I didn't like the illustrations quite so much--nothing "wrong" with them, they just weren't really my style. But, I did really appreciate the details; such as the various animals "hiding" in the woods as the child and father looked for the owl. I thought it was neat seeing the other woodland creatures. I wondered if there was any subtle attempt to show that sometimes, when you are looking so hard for one thing, you miss other wonderful things right in front of you. But, the text never seemed to hint at that, so maybe not.

Anyway, I really enjoyed it and it definitely made me feel nice and wintery-cozy. And eager to hear our owl hooting outside ;-)
Profile Image for Lisa Vegan.
2,734 reviews1,200 followers
November 16, 2010
On reread (11/15/10) I’m tempted to change this from 4 to 3 stars, but I guess I’ll leave it.

The watercolor paintings are lovely, just beautiful. However, the father’s facial expression was too fierce for my tastes. So was the owl’s but it seemed fitting for a magnificent wild bird. But, all the paintings highlight the dark, the cold, the quiet so perfectly.

The story is very simple and sedate and I figure some children will like it and some will be bored, or scared. If the father’s expression and the owl aren’t seen as frightening, this could make an appropriate bedtime story. The quiet companionship of daughter and father on an outing just for them will likely seem special to children, and those who remember childhood. It’s probably just me but I didn’t really approve of what I considered teasing when the father tried to attract an owl to show itself.

On the dedication page, the author and the illustrator both refer to owling in real life.
Profile Image for Wilhelmina Jenkins.
242 reviews203 followers
April 10, 2010
How did I leave this book off of my list? My grandson and I read this book at least 3 times a week for months and months. I absolutely love the language, the atmosphere, EVERYTHING about this book.
Profile Image for Dolly.
Author 1 book641 followers
September 16, 2016
This is a very nice story about a Father and son who go out owling on a bright moonlit night. It is told from the boy's perspective, a good memory of a special time with his Dad.

The illustrations are simple and muted, but do a great job of telling the story on their own. I thought this was a very interestng story, but our girls lost interest a few pages in. Oh well...

This book was selected as one of the books for the July 2016- Quarterly Caldecott discussion at the Picture-Book Club in the Children's Books Group here at Goodreads.

September 2016 update: I watched a video of one of my fellow MLIS students read this book aloud to children and it was really sweet to revisit this heartfelt tale.
Profile Image for midnightfaerie.
1,907 reviews118 followers
January 5, 2014
We loved this book! What a fun idea! To go on an owl walk! The illustrations were beautiful too! The kids loved it! Great read!
Profile Image for Crystal Marcos.
Author 4 books890 followers
December 20, 2010
The story of Owl Moon takes place in the bitter cold of the late night hours yet it is a special heartwarming read. I enjoyed the story of the little girl and her father on their owling trip. I never heard of owling until I read this book. I feel I know all about the special outings now. The author gave such a great description. It was also interesting to read that both the author and illustrator had gone owling.

Although this is a Caldecott Medal winner, I am not particularly fond of the illustrations they are just not my taste. The owl itself was a little mean looking. But, I suppose that is what he might look like in the wild if someone shined a flashlight in his face. I know if someone did that to me I wouldn’t be pleased. I do adore the end illustration with daddy caring his little girl home.

This is a Picture Book Club "Winter" read found here: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/4...
Profile Image for Nhi Nguyễn.
958 reviews1,196 followers
December 18, 2019
Beautiful illustrations and great story. The story of a father and his child going owling really makes me want to go owling among the snowy forest myself. Imagine what it would feel like if I ever spotted a Great Horned Owl in the gorgeous winter wonderland! Amazing!
Profile Image for Abigail.
7,083 reviews173 followers
December 19, 2018
A young girl and her father set out for the woods one snowy night, in this lovely, contemplative picture-book, the Caldecott Medal winner for 1988. Aware that she must be very quiet, the girl narrator struggles to keep up with her father, and - when they enter the darkness of the woods themselves - to be brave. Both are necessary, she informs the reader, when one is going owling, something she has been waiting a very long time to be allowed to do. Finally, in a moonlit clearing, with snow whiter than milk, the pair see what they have come for - a Great Horned Owl. After a moment (or one hundred) of magical connection, the owl flies on, and the tired pair head home...

Owl Moon is yet another of those classic picture-books that have long been "on my radar," but that I'd somehow never read, so I'm glad it was chosen as one of our "Winter Themed" selections, over in the Picture-Book Club to which I belong. I loved so many things about the book, from Jane Yolen's simple but evocative text, to John Schoenherr's beautiful watercolor artwork. The idea that sometimes the best and most magical experiences in life require effort and discipline, is worked seamlessly into the story, as is the notion that long awaited "treats" are especially delightful. The enchantment of the winter landscape is perfectly captured by both word and image here, and I particularly appreciated the fact that, even before they have seen the owl, the girl and her father are not alone, as a variety of woodland creatures observe their journey. The two-page spread in which the owl is depicted is simply breathtaking, allowing the reader to feel, with the two in the story, that sense of joyous culmination.

All in all, a delightful winter picture-book, one I highly recommend to all young nature and owl lovers, and to anyone who loves the cold enchantment of this season!
Profile Image for dianne .
619 reviews98 followers
October 8, 2016
i am clearing out my oversize library - with hundreds of children's books my children last read 20 years ago. Some, like this one, i didn't remember.
It is a gorgeous, evocative walk in the silent winter woods; an almost sacred ritual to see a Great Horned Owl, maybe, as described by a girl on her first "owling". The description of the wait, first to be old enough, brave enough, quiet enough, warm enough - then for the hoped for silent, regal flight of an owl.
Being urban for the majority of my life, those truly silent winter, snowy nights have been rare for me, but this beautifully, perfectly, illustrated book brought them back. Sit somewhere quiet and read it. It's almost a meditation.
Profile Image for Hlee Moua.
38 reviews1 follower
April 14, 2013
Owl Moon was an enjoyable book. It was easy to read and follow along. This book again will be a great way to introduce snow and different climate to children that had not experience it before. Also, this book will be a great adventure for children to go owling and also introduce owls and night creatures to the children. I also love the connections between the father and daughter.
Profile Image for Kathy.
2,741 reviews5,978 followers
July 5, 2010
I enjoyed this book but it failed as a read aloud to my 4 year old. She wandered off part way through. For kids older than 4.
Profile Image for Nancy.
1,387 reviews299 followers
August 13, 2017
Our son loved this beautiful books.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,500 reviews

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