‘Three Little Owls‘ by Emanuele Luzzati (English version by John Yeoman) and illustrated by Quentin Blake (published by Tate Publishing)
As soon as I saw this book I knew there was no way I’d be spending this Christmas without it (and having a birthday quite close to Christmas meant I had some book money to use up – hurrah!). Owls, Christmas and Quentin Blake are a pretty bewitching combo.
The story behind the story is that the text is by Emanuele Luzzati, an Italian illustrator/animator/set designer who died in 2007. In 2009, those managing his estate asked Quentin Blake if he would add the illustrations so that the book could be published. John Yeoman, with whom Blake has collaborated in the past, then wrote the English version.
The rhyming story is not what I was expecting at all, though that is not a good or a bad thing. There is a sort of thread to it, but for me it definitely has the feel of a nonsense poem as well. We follow the antics of the three owls as they dance, hoot, and conjure up a multi-lingual fish, before travelling the world and then bopping and bipping their way home for Christmas with treats for everyone.
Please accept my apologies for the sideways photo below. Try as I might, WordPress will not accept any rotations of this image so this post comes with a warming wheat pack to soothe your cricked neck!
Blake’s illustrations are as fantastic as always (another illustrator, who along with people like Shirley Hughes, absolutely defines my childhood reading experiences) and he has definitely done justice to this text. It doesn’t actually feel overly Christmassy (that could be a pro or a con depending on your preferences) but it is certainly very owly, so it’s a hit for me :)