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Owl Eyes

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Gates visits her Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) heritage for this pourquoi story about the habits and appearance of the owl. Raweno, ``master of all spirits and everything-maker,'' molds prototypes of all the creatures of the woodlands, then tells each bird or beast to decide on its colors ``and however else you wish to be.'' As Fox, Sparrow, Squirrel et al. take turns declaring their choices, Owl keeps up a steady barrage of suggestions (``Fox should be yellow like the sun''). Raweno is aggravated, but the reader will likely be amused, especially as Miyake supplies thought balloons that show Owl's envisionings (e.g., Fox as lemon-yellow, with a short, stocky torso). The effect is all the more comic given the sobriety of Miyake's full-spread illustrations, which demonstrate a clear reverence for nature. In the end, Raweno silences Owl: ``Because I work only by day, you will be awake only at night.'' He further punishes intrusive Owl by making his neck short, saying, ``You will watch only what is in front of you''-and thus strikes the only false note here. Owls, including the long-eared owl depicted, can rotate their heads through 180 degrees or more, a fact undoubtedly known by Kanienkehaka storytellers. Ages 4-up. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-In Kanienkehaka (Mohawk) legend, the creator, Raweno, gives each animal its basic shape, then adds fur, feathers, coloring, and other finishing details according to the animal's wishes. In this retelling, Raweno can't finish any work without meddling dissent from owl, who wants fox to have yellow fur, wolf to have smaller feet, sparrow a bigger beak, and so on. Raweno, irritated, finally asks owl what he himself wants. Owl wants red feathers-then blue feathers instead-then fur- then...Raweno loses patience with the bird's impudence and interference, and gives him a neckless body so he'll watch only what is before him, big ears to hear what he is told, and a nocturnal life-to keep him out of the way. Miyake's richly representational paintings focus on the handsome, long-haired Raweno, but the animals and forest setting are given careful attention, too. Details stand out against the leafy green background. Raweno is noble and individualized, more a fine human figure than a divine one. It's his appealing presence that is likely to get this pourquoi tale off the shelf.-Patricia (Dooley) Lothrop Green, St. George's School, Newport, RI
Kay Weisman
According to Kanienkehakan (Mohawk) legend, Raweno, the Master of All Spirits and Everything-Maker, created the woodlands and all the animals that inhabit them. In the beginning, Raweno generously allows each species to choose its own coloring and shape; only Owl insists on meddling from the sidelines, criticizing and second-guessing Raweno's every move. Finally, in disgust, the Creator goes against Owl's wishes for red feathers, a long neck, and a crown of plumes and shapes the annoying bird to suit His own purposes--with a short neck (so he can see only in front), big ears (so he can hear everything he is told), big eyes (so he can see in the dark), and dull feathers (so he will seldom be seen). Miyake's colorful paintings feature a leggings-and-loincloth-clad Raweno whose expressive eyes convey growing irritation with the impudent bird. Children will especially enjoy Owl's conversation bubbles, illustrating his ridiculous suggestions to Raweno. Although no source notes are included, this will make a fine story-hour choice and an interesting addition to units on Native Americans.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688124724
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/1994
  • Edition number: 1
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.40 (w) x 8.62 (h) x 0.39 (d)

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