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There's an Owl in the Shower

There's an Owl in the Shower

3.5 6
by Jean Craighead George

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Borden's father, Leon, was a logger in the old-growth forests of California. That is, until the spotted-owl lovers interfered. One day, frustrated by his father's unemployment, Borden sets out on a mission of revenge against the spotted owl but returns home with a half-starved owlet instead.

The family soon discovers that the owlet, whom Borden names Bardy, loves


Borden's father, Leon, was a logger in the old-growth forests of California. That is, until the spotted-owl lovers interfered. One day, frustrated by his father's unemployment, Borden sets out on a mission of revenge against the spotted owl but returns home with a half-starved owlet instead.

The family soon discovers that the owlet, whom Borden names Bardy, loves to take showers and watch late-night TV. Only after the whole family has fallen in love with Bardy do they realize that the conflict between nature and human industry is not so easily resolved.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Wendy Ricci
Borden is worried and angry. His father has lost his job as a cutter due to environmental concerns related to preserving the endangered spotted owl and old growth forests. Borden sets out one day to get revenge by shooting a spotted owl. Instead, he ends up rescuing what he believes to be a young Barred Owl. How Borden's family, especially his rugged and bitter father, Leon, react to the challenges of caring for the appealing owlet, makes for a heart-warming novel. Borden's and Leon's gradual change from angry owl-haters to concerned protectors is told in a believable way that unobtrusively presents valuable scientific information and different points of view concerning a difficult environmental problem. Realistic black and white drawings add to the charm of the book.
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
This is the story of a family that is struggling after father lost his logging job due to environmental concerns relating to the endangered spotted owl. When Borden finds a small owlet hurt in the forest, he brings the creature home. It becomes a part of the family, loved especially by the father who is horrified to discover it's a spotted owl. Love amid times of difficulty and the complexity of ecological issues are both poignantly described.
School Library Journal
Gr 3-5Set in a small logging town in northern California, George's book focuses on the conflict between loggers and environmentalists over the northern spotted owl. Young Borden Watson plunges into the woods, planning to kill one of the creatures, believing they are directly responsible for his father losing his job as a logger. He returns, however, with an owlet that has fallen from its nest. Caring for it is no easy task; other family members are drawn into the situation, especially the out-of-work father, who has lots of free time. (Because young spotted owls have no spots, the family thinks their pet is a barred owl.) Though she is clearly on the side of the endangered birds, George's writing skill and knowledge of animal behavior turn what could have been nothing but message into an absorbing story that shows both sides of the controversy, leaving readers with a clear understanding of the issues involved. Perhaps the conflict is too neatly resolved, but the story ends on a somber note. The owlet is returned to its nest, but when the male owl calls for his mate, there is no answer. Merrill's drawings perfectly capture the engaging bird and the family's affection for it.Ruth S. Vose, San Francisco Public Library
Kay Weisman
Because his father has lost his job logging in the old-growth forests of northern California, Borden vows to destroy any spotted owl he sees. When he discovers an owlet lying on the ground, he decides to rescue it, assuming it is a barred owl and, therefore, not his sworn enemy. The whole family takes a liking to Bardy, especially Dad, who plans to use him in court to demonstrate what a kindhearted soul he is when he must fight charges of assaulting a conservationist. As the owlet matures, it becomes clear that it is really a spotted owl, but by this time, Dad and Borden have both come to realize how important the creature is to a healthy ecosystem. Although the plot is predictable and George's environmental views are well known, Bardy's antics are engaging and informative. A good choice as a read-aloud for classes studying owls or endangered species.

Product Details

Harpercollins Childrens Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
8 - 11 Years

Read an Excerpt

A Good Owl

Borden Watson braked his bike and jumped off. He wheeled it across the narrow logging road and into the dark forest. Leaning it against a tree, he took his rifle from its carrier and put a bullet in the chamber.

A cool green silence wrapped around him. He breathed deeply, then stepped onto the needle-carpeted ground and walked a soundless distance. Ankle deep in ferns and wildflowers, he stopped in a grove of trees. The trees were so enormous that one alone, standing in the middle of a logging road, could block trucks in two directions.

Borden was in the old-growth forest of the Pacific Coast in northern California, a land blessed with abundant rain and sun, a temperate climate, and deep soils.

He did not see this wild wealth. He was in the old-growth forest for one purpose: to 'shoot owls--spotted owls.

He hated them.

His eyes cruised up the trunk of an enormous Douglas fir. They peered past the large low branches, up past a floral burst of limbs where a pine siskin cheeped, and on up to a cluster of needles two hundred feet above the forest floor. just below the needle spray was a large nest of sticks. He grinned.

"You," he said aloud. "You owl, in that nest. You're dead, the minute you stick your head up."

It was almost twilight, and the owl, Borden reasoned, should be awake and ready to go out hunting. He thought about his father and cried out, "My dad doesn't have a job because of you. He can't cut any more big trees because of you."

Shouting seemed to help the pain Borden had felt since his father had lost his job with the lumber company. His father had told him that a judge had stopped allsale of the trees on public lands in the Northwest until the United States Forest Service could come up with a plan to save the spotted owl. It lived in the old-growth forests, and the forests were being cut down for lumber. The gentle owl was on the brink of extinction.

The government, it seemed to Borden, liked owls better than people.

Borden thought about this and grew angrier. "He's the best tree cutter from here north through Canada to Alaska," he shouted to the bird in the nest hole.

"He can put a giant tree right down on the earth without hitting a single tree around it. He can do that." He lifted his rifle. He had more to say.

"He's the best of the cutters, and the cutters are the most important people in the whole lumber business. And their work is very, very dangerous. Limbs and trees can fall and kill or injure them. They have to be smart people." He paused, then went on.

"My pop is famous. He won the National Tree Cutters' Award--" He smiled pridefully, then remembered. "But because of you, he can't work."

Borden caught his breath and thought about what he had just said. He did not understand why a little owl could stop honest, hardworking men like his father from cutting down trees, but it had happened. Now his father was out of work, and it was painful for the whole Watson family.

His mother had been forced to take a job in the school cafeteria. Borden had mowed lawns to help, but that was in the summer. Through the winter and into late spring he, too, was out of work.

Sally, his older sister, with her pale-blue eyes and bush of red stringy curls, was also upset. She had stopped playing soccer with her friends, and every day except Tuesdays came home right after school. She would go to her room and close the door. She wouldn't talk about spotted owls when Borden and his father ranted against them.

Borden suspected she was embarrassed that Pop didn't have a job. She didn't need to be. She could be angry, maybe, but not embarrassed. Many fathers were out of work in the lumber town of Fresta. Stores had closed, and businesses and lumber companies had failed. Almost everyone was suffering, but that did not seem to matter to Sally. She went on soothing her hurt behind her closed door. Borden did not criticize her. He understood why she felt as she did. Their father was Leon Watson, big, noisy, protective. They thought nothing could happen to him. But it had, and that was very upsetting. A hero had been felled by a measly little bird.

All spring, Borden thought up plans to get his father's job back. None were any good. He just didn't understand why an owl could stop a man like his pop from cutting down trees.

When Judge Kramer came down the street on his way to the post office one school morning, Borden caught up to him and put the question to him.

"There's a law," said the impeccably dressed judge, adjusting his tie. "It's called the Endangered Species Act. It states that no one can destroy threatened and endangered creatures or the habitats they live in. If they do, they will be fined, put in jail, or both." He looked at Borden.

"Our northern spotted owl is a threatened species. He can only live in old-growth forests and nest in big tall trees. When we cut them down, he dies."

Borden thought about that. Judge Kramer continued. "The problem is this: The agencies that take care of our public lands--the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management--violated the nation's environmental laws. They permitted lumber companies to cut recklessly and too fast. The owls are being wiped off the face of the earth. Mountainsides are eroding. A judge in Seattle ordered all timber sales, and therefore cutting, to stop until there is a workable plan to save the owl."

There's an Owl in the Shower. Copyright © by Jean George. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Jean Craighead George (1919-2012) was the beloved award-winning author of more than one hundred books for children and young adults. Her novel Julie of the Wolves won the Newbery Medal and her novel My Side of the Mountain received a Newbery Honor. She also wrote acclaimed picture books that celebrate the natural world, including The Wolves Are Back; Luck; Morning, Noon, and Night; and Everglades. A Special Gift for Grammy is one of the last books Jean Craighead George worked on before she passed away.

Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher are an illustration team with more than forty picture books in print. Their work has garnered rave reviews and won awards. Their books include My Many Colored Days, Bebop Express, I Walk at Night, New York's Bravest, The Velveteen Rabbit, and The Salamander Room. They were also concept artists for Pixar's Toy Story and A Bug's Life. They live in California with their son.

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There's an Owl in the Shower 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a wonderful book to learn about owls. I would not reccomend this book for novel studying or reading enjoyment. This book is great for owl lovers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The plot is outstanding.It is a funny true tale story. It is a great children, if not a family book. I have to say it is one of the most intriging and interesting book I have ever read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a wonderful source to learn about owls. I would not reccomend this book for novel studying or reading enjoyment. This book is great for owl lovers.