Otis the Owl

Booklist - February 2017

The story is quiet rather than dramatic, but the exceptionally clear, close-up photos of Otis and his family command attention, and Holland’s short, simply written text is informative yet accessible. Kids intrigued by Otis may also enjoy the appended section that explains owl pellets and owl anatomy, while asking readers to identify which of eight pictured animals are part of an owl’s diet and to match photos with the body parts described on the facing page. Holland, a naturalist and a skilled nature photographer, offers a visually captivating picture book on owls.

School Library Journal - February 2017

PreS-Gr 1—This gem introduces children to the charming simplicity of the life of Otis and his barred owl family. His home is a hole in a craggy tree, where readers can observe as he eats under the watchful eye of his parents, squabbles and reconciles with his sister, and prepares for flight. Holland's photography matches the text well. After reading about the adorable Otis, students will be curious to learn more about barred owls. Back matter consists of additional information on anatomy, prey, and regurgitation, subjects that could spark discussion with an adult. VERDICT Delightful for nonfiction storytimes everywhere, especially those with an interest in baby animals.—Nancy Call, Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Aptos, CA

Foreword Reviews - March/April 2017

Watch in wonder as Otis transforms from a tiny ball of fluff into a predator on the cusp of stretching his feathers beyond the safety of his family tree, in Otis the Owl, a real-life glimpse into the world of the woodland Barred Owl. Nature photographer Mary Holland’s breathtaking images capture the fierce beauty found in birds of prey, and candid commentary educates and enlightens while engaging audiences with questions, quizzes, and creative thinking.

Kirkus Reviews - December 2016

He’s just a little ball of fluff perched in a tree. Readers get a surprise when another ball of fluff appears. Otis has a sister! Touching on the general skills a young owl must learn to become independent (how to eat, strengthening wings for flight), Holland lightly dips in to this bird of prey’s life

Publishers Weekly - December 2016

Holland’s photographs offer engaging shots of the owlets, but because Otis and his sister don’t stray far from the nest, there’s little variation in the images, most of which show them peering from the hole in the tree they inhabit. A closing section of quizzes, owl-related vocabulary, and other details add educational heft to this brief introduction to owls’ daily existence.

NSTA Recommends - February 2017

Otis the Owl is a must–have for the elementary classroom and at–home libraries and this 32–page book, stocked with superior factual information about owls, will not sit on the shelf for very long!

Librarian Review - December 2016

Cute story with cute photos! This little book should keep young owl fans happy! It's all about Otis from birth to gong out on his own and his family.

Science Books & Films - May 2017

This is an interesting, beautifully illustrated science book for young children. The illustrations are close- up detailed photos of the Otis the Owl and his sister. The storyline is simple and straightforward but also engaging—the baby owl hatches, grows up, and leaves the nest. Along the way, he eats small animals and regurgitates their fur, bones, and teeth. He tussles with his sister, but he also preens her. He learns to fly. The story, while gentle, is told without sentiment or bias. It consists of valid observations— a foundation for further scientific exploration and learning. There is a short quiz at the end of the story, as well as additional facts. The information in this book is particularly valuable as more and more children grow up without the ability to explore and discover habitat for owls and similarly interesting animals in their backyards. This book should be introduced to children as science, which it is. If youngsters first experience science as this lovely, informative book, they may be motivated to pursue more science as they grow.--Michele Bremer, Bremer & Associates, Monument, CO

Midwest Book Review - June 2017

Stunning photographs show Otis and his fledgling sister gradually getting bigger, bravely venturing out on a tree limb from their nest. In time, Otis will learn to fly and to hunt his own live prey by night. This beautifully illustrated owlet story shows Otis and his sister both fighting and preening each other, interacting like many siblings even young humans. Additional enrichment sections at the end of the story includes For Creative Minds, Owl Pellets, comparative animal portraits, and a matching section on owl anatomy.

Conny Withay - February 2017

What makes this book interesting is not only the section on an owl living in a tree and learning how to climb out and fly away but also the facts regarding how the birds cough up skeletons, also eat frogs, snakes, and skunks, and that their ears are on the sides of their heads, not tops. Any child will enjoy looking at the close-up photographs while learning about these birds.

Archimedes Notebook - May 2017

Beautiful, detailed photos take us right into the first few months of a baby owl's life. Otis, and his sister, are the cutest, fluffiest sad-eyed babies you've ever seen. What I like about this book: It shows all aspects of a baby owl's life, from hatching to eating voles, mice, and the occasional chipmunk. Sometimes Otis and his sister fight over the food their parents bring. Other times, he and sis are best friends, preening each other's feathers and standing watch at the nest hole. Back matter includes information on owl pellets, a guessing game, and details on owl anatomy.

How Useful It Is - February 2017

This book is awesome! It’s packed with knowledge from the owl’s birth to when they learn to fly...My son and I learned about owl pellets. My son was super excited to learn of this new information that he called his dad over to tell him about it. We also love a page with pictures of different animals that Owls eats. I truly recommend this book for all readers!

Texas Kitchen and Garden and More - June 2017

Readers learn many wondrous facts about Otis and his kind. Absolutely beautiful photography is found throughout the entire book. Storyline helps to engage young learners with these amazing pictures. The last few pages include lots of fascinating facts about owls. A perfect addition to any child’s personal or school library.

Texas Kitchen and Garden and More - June 2017

"Otis The Owl", written by naturalist and nature photographer, Mary Holland, is the story of a young barred owl. This educational book tells how Otis was born and raised in the woods. He grows alongside his sister with the help of his mother and father. Readers learn many wondrous facts about Otis and his kind. Absolutely beautiful photography is found throughout the entire book. Storyline helps to engage young learners with these amazing pictures. The last few pages include lots of fascinating facts about owls. A perfect addition to any child’s personal or school library.

The Puget Sound Council for the Review of Children's Books

This is a direct piece of narrative nonfiction that would be a good read-aloud in classes studying owls.

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine - August 2017

The close-up photos of owls make the student really see what owls are like, and all the kids really enjoyed the book and learning more about owls. Otis the Owl is an excellent resource for any student to learn more about this intriguing animal.