CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Thompson, Richard
Illustrated by Martin Springett
Victoria (B.C.), Orca Book Publishers, 1993.
32pp, cloth, $1 4.95, ISBN 1-920501-98-2. CIP

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10

Reviewed by Edith Strocen

Volume 22 Number 2
1994 March / April

Richard Thompson has created an original myth, that is, a myth which resembles the myth of oral tradition. Who is a  pourquoi story, which explains to the reading audience why owls do not have names.

It seems that at one time owls did have names. There was a family of owls: a father, a mother and three owlets. Each of the children was given a powerful, meaningful name. The first was called Night, the second Moon and the third was named Tomorrow. The personalities in whose honour the owlets had been named were pleased and sent gifts to commemorate the occasion.

As the owlets grew up, they became proud, too proud, and they began to boast. Night, Moon and Tomorrow, for whom the owlets were named, became disenchanted with the owlets. They watched the arrogant owlets squander their gifts and continue their boasting. Eventually, the three asked for the return of their names. So now, if you try to call an owl by his name....

There are many wonderful discussion possibilities in the story: the meaning of names, the use of power, and the  pourquoi tradition. The story is told in the oral tradition style--short sentences, repetitive patterns, and a clear ending, with rewards and consequences in place. It would fit in with any folk-tale unit as an example of a created myth.

The artwork for this book is quite spectacular. Illustrator Martin Springett has used coloured pencils to create a series of illustrations that are haunting in their simplicity. Night, Moon and Tomorrow are often represented by masks for immobile faces, mysterious and powerful. Double-page spreads are tied together with a common margin, offset from the main illustration. Sombre colours--blues, greens and browns shaded with charcoal and grey--dominate. All of the main illustrations are on the right-hand side, with accompanying text on the left.

Richard Thompson is the author of numerous childrens' stories, including  Thistle Broth. Martin Springett has also illustrated   Mei Mi ng & the Dra gon's Daughter. Both are popular school presenters.


Edith Strocen is a teacher-librarian at Greenway School in Winnipeg, Manitoba

line indexes



The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

francaisDigital Collections / Collections Numérisees francais