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The Barn Owls
The Barn Owls
By author: Tony Johnston   Illustrated by: Deborah Kogan Ray
Product Code: 
Binding Information: Hardback 
4  - 7
In Stock
Price: $16.95  $8.48
Tony Johnston's The Barn Owls recalls in quiet tones the memory of a barn that has stood alone in a wheat field for one hundred years at least. The owls have nested there and have hunted in the fields and circled in the night skies as time slowly slipped by. Every night, as the moon rises, a barn owl awakens and flies out to hunt. Feathered against the endless starry night, he swoops and sails to the darkened wheat field below and catches a mouse in his nimble talons. With outstretched wings, this barn owl returns to his barn nest and his hungry family, repeating the ageless ritual his ancestors have practiced here, in this barn, for at least one hundred years.

Following the life cycle of the barn owl, this gentle poem evokes a sense of warm sunshine and envelopes readers with the memory of the scent of a wheat field.

nature, animal, animals, night animal, night animals, poetry, birds, night birds, nocturnal birds

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  • Also Available As:
    Binding Information: Paperback 
    ISBN: 978-0-88106-982-2
    Availability: In Stock
    Price: $7.95

  • Read, America! Collection

  • Reviews
      Kirkus Reviews - January 31, 2000
    From Johnston (An Old Shell, 1999,etc.), poetic phrases that follow a ghostly barn owl through days and nights, suns and moons.

    Barn owls have been nesting and roosting, hunting and hatching in the barn and its surroundings for as long as the barn has housed spiders, as long as the wheat fields have housed mice, "a hundred years at least." The repetition of alliterative words and the hushed hues of the watercolors evoke the soundless, timeless realm of the night owl through a series of spectral scenes. Short, staccato strings of verbs describe the age-old actions and cycles of barn owls, who forever "grow up/and sleep/and wake/and blink/and hunt for mice." Honey-colored, diffused light glows in contrast to the night scenes of barn owls blinking awake. A glimpse into the hidden campestral world of the elusive barn owl.
      Booklist - February 28, 2000
    Soft, striking, double-page spreads focus on a family of barn owls that lives in a century-old California barn, which is made of redwood and surrounded by oak trees and fields of wheat. A few words of simple, poetic text accompany each picture, stressing the ebb and flow of life in and around the barn. Some of the pictures, such as the impressionistic painting of an owl floating above a wheat field, are cast in a golden glow. In others, the owls loom large as they care for their young in the cramped space of the barn's rafters, or evoke the silent flight of an owl hunting at night. The pictures match the text's simplicity and understated tone making this a quietly eloquent nature book.
      School Library Journal - March 31, 2000
    Johnston has created a tribute to the common barn owl. Her creatures doze "in the scent of wheat" and leave "the barn through a bale of light." Golden wheat tones suffuse Ray's watercolor-pencil and paint art. Author and illustrator run lyrical, but they don't lose sight of the bird's daily bread--the mouse. The center spread wordlessly depicts an owl aloft, a mouse dangling lifelessly from its beak, wings cutting through a dark night lit only with the merest sliver of moon. Elsewhere, as grown owls bring the newest offering to their loft-bound babies, sharp eyes will pick out the skeletal remains of previous meals. None of this is gory, just matter-of-fact: "Owls have hunted in this place, mice have hidden in this wheat one hundred years at least." The poetry and paintings will make children wat to learn more about these mysterious creatures. No humans intrude on this venture into barn owl life and the species is different, but the book is a natural lead in to Jane Yolen's Owl Moon (Philomel,1987).