‘Owl at Home’, by Arnold Lobel – book review

Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We all have natural octaves for narratives of ourselves to speak in various notes and tempos. But Arnold Lobel’s is a fugue of loneliness, disappointment, sadness, and longing vested in the good-heartedness and geniality. ‘Owl at Home’ is Lobel’s ballad of melancholic warmth that sings his heart’s song.

This little book tells of an owl who lives alone in the treehouse. The owl has the comforts of life, from a comfy sofa to a pillowy bed and a beautiful teapot set, but not a life companion to speak. So the owl invites winter with a wide-open door, even if the wind sweeps over the house’s warmth rudely. But that’s not it. He makes tea from his tears of sad thoughts by pouring them into a jar. Hence his tea is named ‘tear-water tea.’ Oh, and yes, the lonely owl wants to befriend a moon that he regards too beautiful and lofty to be acquainted with. The melancholy ballad has such a simple loveliness that it touches the reader’s heart and transforms pathos into sympathy.

The book’s genre is officially and publicly children’s literature, but that doesn’t mean that readers aged beyond 18 years can’t. While reading the book, I kept associating the owl, the likable solitary owl, with the author and illustrator Lobel, whose life was also ended in a lonely man’s theme. Bullies tattered Lobel’s childhood at schools due to his weak disposition and shyness, which made him estranged from the crowd of life, being utterly unattached and felt unwanted and unfit for happiness. Likewise, the goodhearted but quixotic owl is Lobel himself at his saddest, loneliest, and paradoxically best because the truth about him lays bare through the narratives. The author’s beautiful illustrations delineate the shape of his heart that is warm and generous and move a feeling of pity for the dreadful solitude to a sense of love with a sound of mirth.

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Stephanie Suh

I write stuff of my interest that does not interest anyone in my blog. No grammarians, no copy editors, no marketers, no cynics are welcome.

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