Elem. – Whoo-ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story

Gianferrari, Maria. Whoo-ku Haiku: A Great Horned Owl Story. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2020. 978-0-399-54842-0. 32 p. $16.99. Grades K-3.

Whoo-Ku Haiku shows readers what life is like for a family of great horned owls. High up in a tree, the mama and papa owls care for a pair of eggs, waiting for the day when they tap their way out of the shell and start their lives. After the eggs hatch into little fuzzy owlets, the mama and papa hunt for food and care for their babies while also protecting them from predators. Readers learn that life as an owl can be full of dangers – crows, hawks, and foxes all lurk around the owlets, waiting for the moment they are left unguarded and vulnerable. However, mama and papa are able to keep them safe. Mama cares for the birds by plucking and cleaning their plumes while papa fetches skunks for dinner. When the day comes for the owlets to try out their wings, they shakily bob and teeter in the air as the mama keeps a careful eye on them. When they successfully return to the nest after their inaugural flight, their clan is complete, and they enjoy being together under the moonlight.

THOUGHTS: This book is like a delightful piece of art. The illustrations, by Jonathan Voss, are beautifully done, and the text, all done in haiku, reads like a song. In haiku poetry, the writer is limited in their syllable count which means each word has to be carefully and purposefully chosen, and that is certainly the case in this book. What makes the poetry even more special is that while it reads like a song or a narrative, each haiku is packed with information about great horned owls, including what they eat, where they live, how they hunt, and who hunts them. Any reluctant non-fiction reader would enjoy this book. It would also be a great mentor text for teaching haiku as it demonstrates the beauty of poetry and the significance of choosing meaningful words.

598.9 Great Horned Owls          Danielle Corrao, Ephrata Area SD