Friday, July 11, 2008

OWLY: Volumes 1-4

Volume 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

Volume 4

Andy Runton
PUBLISHER: Top Shelf Productions
GENRE: Animal Fantasy
FORMAT: Softcover
PAGES (vol. 1): 160
PAGES (vol. 2): 128
PAGES (vol. 3): 144
PAGES (vol. 4): 128

COLOR: Black and white
ISBN-13 (vol. 1): 978-1-891830-62-4
ISBN-13 (vol. 2): 978-1-891830-64-8
ISBN-13 (vol. 3): 978-1-891830-76-1
ISBN-13 (vol. 4): 978-1-891830-89-1

OWLY is an extraordinary little nature lover: kind, gentle, generous, soft, and compassionate – not what one would expect from an owl. The forest creatures have a hard time believing in Owly’s sweeter side, choosing to be wary of him. It just breaks his heart, and he does his best to change their perspectives and make new friends. Owly’s day consists of tending his garden, loving his friends, and taking care of the woodland creatures in need.

For the reader who is looking for a tenderhearted, character driven, sweet story about animals that don’t eat one another, it gets no better. Runton’s work is most unusual in its definition of “text”. That is to say, OWLY is a wordless (or near wordless) graphic novel. Runton uses his artistic prowess to create expressive characters and iconography to illustrate a most charming yarn. His unique work opens the story to a wide range of reading and age levels.

Runton uses icons and body language to illustrate
the feelings and thoughts of the
woodland creatures.
Notice the expressions
on Owly and his friends.

This is the extend of the words used in the series. It is rare.

Runton does a great job portraying the emotional
state of the characters and
the tone of the story.

My Rating: All ages
Publisher’s Rating: All ages

OWLY is a book enjoyed by young and old, good readers and struggling readers. It is a true all-ages book.

Do not assume for one minute that OWLY is a simplistic read because it is wordless. The truth of the matter is that OWLY takes time to understand as the reader must “read” slowly and carve out the meanings behind the facial expressions and icons in the dialogue balloons. Which brings me to an interesting thought: Could OWLY be extraordinarily good at helping children learn to decipher and decode those complex and hidden social queues? I am thinking specifically about children with Autism who struggle to understand the social rules of school and society. Many children struggle to understand facial expressions and body language. I suspect that OWLY could be one way to help teach those intricate rules.

As if that was not enough, Top Shelf has put together lesson plans for OWLY. You can download them as a pdf for free.

The fourth volume of OWLY is printed on recycled paper.
  • Awards (according to the Runton website):
  • Eisner Award for Best Publication for a Younger Audience
  • Harvey Award for Best New Talent
  • Ignatz Award for Outstanding Series
  • Ignatz Award for Promising New Talent
  • Howard Eugene Day Memorial Prize

Highly Recommended
OWLY is an iris in the garden of classroom comics: beautiful and delicate.

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