Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Why We Love Hedwig and Pigwidgeon

Owls; our most charming bird. Written and illustrated by Matt Sewell. Ten Speed Press/Penguin Random House. Release date: September 22, 2015.
British author, street artist and "birder," Matt Sewell shares his love and passion for owls by presenting brief narratives of fifty owls from all over the world. In a forward to the book, Martin Noble notes the world's fascination with these creature spans history and cultures.
However, this is less a field guide or informational book but rather this artist's celebration of one of his favorite birds. Short entries on each owl discuss folklore, cultural beliefs, or symbolism attributed by humans to this owl. The Woodland Barnyard owl is associated with misfortune. Conversely, the Little Owl is associated with Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, and symbolizes wisdom and good fortune. The book is organized by habitat (Woodland, Tropical, Wilderness, etc.). Each narrative includes the owl's scientific name, a short description focusing on a prominent feature or features of that owl (the huge and distinctive eyebrows of the Crested owl) and approximate size and general location. Most of the entries are accompanied by Sewell's distinctive, stylized watercolors,  familiar to readers of his earlier books and to those who have seen his graphic designs on products and large street muralsThe author's charming and quirky characterizations of each owl will certainly delight readers of all ages: he humorously comments on and depicts the scruffy appearance of the Tawny owl and the scowling face of a Long eared owl. 
Sewell concludes the book with a note on "Spotting and Jotting" (how to look for and keep track of owls) and a lovely thumbnail watercolor of each of the owls in the book. 
Sewell's love for and fascination with birds comes through on each page and his humorous observations and delightful watercolors make this a charming gift for birders of all ages. Also highly recommended for libraries with visual art collections and where interest in birding is high. 
Visit  Sewell's website to see more of his work. Check out a few videos on YouTube: the book trailer for Our Garden Birds (Ebury Press) and a 2014 interview. Be sure to visit Ten Speed Press (Penguin Random House) to learn more about this book and other titles published by this press.

Thanks to NetGalley and Ten Speed Press for giving me access to the e-galley.

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