cover image Merry and Hark

Merry and Hark

April Genevieve Tucholke, illus. by Rebecca Santo. Algonquin, $18.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-64375-238-9

Narrator Merry is a northern saw-whet owl with “big yellow eyes that scan the dark world below.” Of the conifers in the forest, Hark is Merry’s favorite—she’s a Norway spruce who is “strong, and proud, and gentle.” In their wood, the owls gather to hear a great gray owl tell stories about Hero Owls “who went on grand adventures”—tales that strike up a yearning in Merry’s heart. Soon afterward, Hark is felled and goes silent, and the two are transported to a city, where Hark is set up as a central Christmas tree. Merry is unable to hunt for food in the landscape, drawn by Santo in textured brick reds and slate blues, but a human portrayed with brown skin finds the owl, nurses it, and returns it to the forest. Though Hark’s silencing may hit readers hard, and Merry’s adventure involves more happenstance than heroics, Tucholke frames the story as the grand adventure Merry wished for, focusing the narrative on the owl and its world. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)