cover image Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise

Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise

Sean Taylor, illus. by Jean Jullien. Candlewick, $15.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-7636-7

Taylor (The World Champion of Staying Awake) sends up old-fashioned suspense fiction by contrasting his hero’s puffed-up ego with his inept plans to capture things to eat. Newcomer Jullien paints Hoot Owl as a dumpy egg-cup of a bird—not the sort you’d expect to deliver this pitch-perfect purple prose: “The terrible silence of the night spreads everywhere. But I cut through it like a knife.” Hoot Owl spots his prey and lets readers in on his nefarious plans: “I am a master of disguise. I devise a costume.” The animals he’s after—a rabbit, lamb, and pigeon—all look remarkably composed when they spot Hoot Owl in disguise. “I disguise myself as an ornamental birdbath,” he says importantly. “I wait.” The pigeon perches on the edge of the birdbath, then flies off, a small curlicue above its head signaling mild puzzlement. Fortunately, the hungry Hoot Owl is finally able to deceive and capture something—a pizza. Smart pacing, easy-to-read spreads, and complete confidence that no animals will be hurt in the reading of this book make it a winner. Ages 3–7. (Feb.)