Owl Moon

by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr

Caldecott Medal winner that spotlights the special relationship of father and daughter as they go out through the late winter night in search of an owl.

"Sometimes there's an owl and sometimes there isn't. You don't need words or warm or anything but hope." A simple slice-of-life adventure made magical by award-winning watercolors in soft winter blues and whites. The reader is immediately drawn in by the opening pages which show an owl's eye view of the farmhouse, the father and daughter just starting out, and the surrounding winter landscape. Full of descriptive phrases such as "our feet crunched over the crisp snow" or "the snow . . was whiter than the milk in a cereal bowl".

The different perspectives of the illustrations are interesting and the use of size changes and shadows make them more fascinating and somewhat mysterious. 

Activities with Owl Moon

Night and Day

Create a Venn diagram on the board or on a large piece of bulletin board paper.  As a group, have students discuss different things they might see during the day or at night.  Write the name of things in the appropriate area of the diagram. 

Students can also recreate the diagram on a worksheet or in a science journal to refer to later.

Adventure with Father

Father and daughter spend some quality time together late one winter evening.

After reading, open discussion in the group for personal anecdotes and experiences with fathers. (Writers without fathers or positive father-related experiences could use mothers, grandparents, or another caring adult.) Depending on the age of the children, ask them to draw, dictate to a "scribe", or write about one of their own special times with Dad.

A father-son winter adventure can be found in Winter at Long Pond.

Fathers are Special

Make a large mural display to celebrate fathers.

Encourage participants to contribute photographs of themselves with their fathers. Scan, resize to a standard, and post trimmed pictures to a collage in the center of the mural inside a heart-shaped frame. Be sure to label each with the names of the fathers and their children.

Famous fathers (President Obama and his daughters), fathers from books and stories (Father Bear of the Berenstain Bears), and characters such as Father Christmas or Father Time may also be included in the mural.

Have students draw and paint or color portraits of their fathers. Post throughout the mural along with paragraphs written to the prompt “My (father) is special because . . . .”  Encourage each writer to include the word they use to refer to their father such as Dad, Daddy, Pops, Papa, Padre.
Daddy is special because he tells such exciting stories.
My father is special because he is so smart. He can do number problems in his head!

Students without a father in the home may choose to honor another male relative or friend: stepfather, grandfather, uncle, godfather, or possibly nephew, cousin, brother-in-law, neighbor.

Related downloads

Paperbag puppet pattern Owl Paper Bag Puppet

Color, cut out, and glue these patter pieces to a small paper lunch bag to create an owl puppet.