I was first introduced to Owly by Andy Runton when I was in art school. The series follows a little owl named Owly and his friend Wormy as they make new friends and learn about the world around them. I always ate up anything with adorable art, and Owly was no exception.
What really intrigued me was the unique way Runton decided to tell the story. Instead of using words for dialogue, he represents all the dialogue in pictures. These pictograms transform the story in an easy-to-read format, making this a great book for very young readers. But the stories are still rich with emotion that anyone who loves cute animals will appreciate.
The first book contains two stories: “The Way Home” and “The Bittersweet Summer”. The first story introduces the reader to the characters and the world they live in. Owly is an endearing little owl that is full of curiosity and emotion. He is kind to those around him, but his kindness isn’t always returned so he is at first very lonely. He rescues a worm named Wormy and agrees to help him find his way back home. The two bond on their journey, and although they reach their destination, they decide to stick together in the end. The second story, “The Bittersweet Summer”, details Owly and Wormy’s encounter with a pair of hummingbirds. Though they all have a wonderful summer together, eventually the hummingbirds must migrate away once the cold of winter sets in. But in the end, Owly and Wormy learn that distance can’t keep friends apart.
There are currently 8 Owly graphic novels available for purchase. There are also a large number of short stories and mini-comics that have been featured in Free Comic Book Day comics from the publisher, Top Shelf. (These are available on the Owly official site for free, which is a great way to get a taste of Owly before committing to buy the graphic novels!) While Owly is available at retailers and Amazon, Runton offers the first five volumes, signed and personalized, through his website. You can even purchase your own little Owly plush to snuggle while you read (I have one; he’s tiny and adorable!)
Owly is a great fun, easy, heartwarming read for kids and adults alike. Don’t let its outward simplicity deter you; Runton is a talented storyteller, and these books can be quite engrossing. If cute animals and stories of learning and friendship are your thing, definitely give Owly a read. You won’t be disappointed.