The Little Owl & the Big Tree: A Christmas Story

S. & S./Beach Lane. Oct. 2021. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781665902137.
K-Gr 3–A saw-whet owl is awoken one morning by a man cutting down the tree in which she lives. The tree is carried on a flatbed truck to an unfamiliar city, where the owl is discovered and taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center. Her tree becomes the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, after which she is named Rockefeller and released back into the wild. The art is striking. Each spread is composed of two rectangular frames on a white background; at times each frame contains a different image, and at other times a single image stretches across both. Close-up illustrations of Rockefeller and her caretakers contrast with wider views in which readers will be delighted to search for the tiny owl. The illustrator makes judicious use of color, relying on cool palettes of purple and green when the owl is in her natural habitat, and pops of red, pink, and orange when she comes into contact with humans. The jarring sounds of tools, the commotion of her trip, and the bustle of the city are punctuated with bright, jagged lines. An author’s note at the back provides a bit more detail about the owl and her journey.
VERDICT The trademark illustrative style and spare text work in concert to create a warm, gentle holiday story. This would pair nicely with Matt Tavares’s Red & Lulu.

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