If you have ever had a relative or friend knit you a sweater or scarf that was
tacky inconsistent with your particular style, uncomfortable, and unfit to be worn in public, then you will understand Little Owl’s dilemma. The star of “Little Owl’s Orange Scarf” by Tatyana Feeney is saddled with a knit scarf that is too long, too scratchy, and far too ORANGE. Despite his best attempts to rid himself of this figurative millstone literally hanging about his neck (re-gifting the scarf, mailing it to Peru), his mother always retrieves it and tells Little Owl, “You need to wear your new scarf…it will keep you nice and warm.”
Then one day, Owl wears his scarf on a field trip to the zoo. He returns home with stories of all the animals he has seen, but without his scarf. Since no one at the zoo seems to know what has happened to this bane of Little Owl’s existence, his mother says they can make a new one, and “…this time (they) will do it together.” Little Owl travels to the yarn store with his mother where he selects his own skein, and his mother knits him a blue scarf that is “soft…just long enough,” and, crucially, not orange! He closes the book by showing us how much he loves wearing his new scarf to the zoo…where, while not called out in the text, the giraffe is seen wearing a strangely familiar orange neck warmer.
Ms. Feeney has created a fun and funny little story, no less appealing for the sparseness of the text or the simplicity of the orange, blue and gray line drawings that decorate each page. Ms. Feeney succeeds in adding humor to the story with small variations in facial expressions; witness the disgusted look Little Owl gives the reader when his mother reminds him how warm his scarf will keep him (“seriously? are you seeing this?”), or the look of innocent surprise when he returns from the zoo with no scarf (“oh! my scarf? I only now noticed it was gone!”).
We really enjoy this book, enough so that we purchased a copy to have in our permanent collection. However, none of us loves this book so much as our youngest. This evening, engaged in an activity comprised of scissors(!!), mason-jar vases, and a bucket exploding with fresh cut flowers, our youngest dropped everything upon seeing this book. She gasped, asked me to read it, said “please show me the pictures”, and gave me her undivided attention. When I had finished, she announced that mommy was going to read the book to us all again. In fact, at this very moment I am typing my review as quickly as possible so that I can finish before she discovers that I have absconded with her favorite book.