Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise

hoot owl

Title: Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise
Author: Sean Taylor
Illustrator: Jean Jullien
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Year of Publication: 2015

I absolutely love owls. Yes, they’re kind of trendy, but they’re also beautiful birds of prey. I’m very thankful that I live in a place where I wake to their eerie hoots regularly. Once in a while I’m even graced with a sighting.


Hoot Owl, Master of Disguise is an adorable picture book. Owl is a rather confident fellow, and this story follows his costume-changing attempts at catching prey. When his disguises fail repeatedly, Owl grows hungrier and hungrier but never loses faith that a tasty meal is soon to be his.

The book’s repetitive pattern and humor make it an enjoyable read aloud for younger students, and the author’s use of similes is a perfect focal point for older students.  It would pack even more punch paired up with some nonfiction books about owls. The illustrations in this book would be great fun to try and recreate. Maybe the next time I read this little gem with Caden and Carmen I’ll hand them some oil pastels and paper and see what happens!

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus

the right word, roget

Title: The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus
Author: Jen Bryant
Illustrator: Melissa Sweet
Publisher: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers
Year of Publication: 2014
Genre: Biography
Literary Awards: Caldecott Honor (2015), Sibert Medal (2015), Kirkus Prize Nominee for Young Readers’ Literature (2014)

It is difficult to find a word for the illustrations: beautiful (handsome, gorgeous, pretty, lovely, graceful, elegant, attractive). It is equally challenging to describe the text: great (august, grand, dignified, sublime, majestic). Peter Mark Roget was a quiet child, often lonely, who spent a great deal of time creating lists of words. He wanted to be able to find just the right word for any given situation. This lovely biography tells the story of how he compiled these lists for years, and eventually published them as Roget’s Thesaurus. This “treasure house” of a book has been in print continuously since 1852!


Peter Mark Roget by Thomas Pettigrew, 1843 print of portrait, Medical Portrait Gallery

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus is the perfect book choice for lovers of words and art. Melissa Sweet’s collage-style illustrations are infused with words and gorgeous details that enhance Jen Bryant’s engaging text. There is much to be enjoyed on each page of this delightful book, so if you plan to share it with a large group I’d recommend projecting it. Don’t miss the author’s and illustrator’s notes at the end of the book!

Rain Reign

rain reign

Title: Rain Reign
Author: Ann M. Martin
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Year of Publication: 2014
Genre: realistic fiction
Literary Awards: Schneider Family Book Award for Middle School (2015), Charlotte Huck Book Award (2015)

As a child, I spent a lot of time reading Ann M. Martin’s series, The Babysitters Club, so it was with a bit of nostalgia that I picked up Rain Reign. I’m so glad I did! Rose (rows) Howard has Asperger syndrome. She lives with her single father, who has a hard time understanding her obsession with homonyms, prime numbers, and rules. Rose’s teachers and classmates also struggle to understand the things that make her different. Thankfully, she has her Uncle Weldon, who completely gets her, and her adopted dog Rain (reign, rein). Rain goes missing when a storm hits their rural town, and Rose is thrust into a life-changing adventure, both heartbreaking and heartwarming. With wordplay and plenty of opportunities to discuss empathy, this book would be great as a read aloud for grades four and up.