OWL DIARIES #1: EVA’S TREETOP FESTIVAL by Rebecca Elliott is the first book in a new series featuring a lovable young owl named Eva.
In the first episode, Eva plans a festival to celebrate spring. The book uses a diary-approach to tell the story and explore topics including friendship, planning, and helpfulness.
Interesting visuals support the simple text. Rather than complete sentences and paragraphs, some pages contain words and phrases to label images drawn into the diary entry. While some teachers may not like this non-traditional approach, young readers are likely to enjoy the variety in story presentation.
The illustrator uses a digital collage technique to create the adorable characters and other visual elements. Each diary entry is presented on white, pink-lined paper using an easy-to-read font. The use of pink and other pastel colors along with the female protagonist is likely to attract more girl than boys readers.
Designed for ages 5-7, this short book lends itself to discussion and learning activities. For instance after Eva introduces herself in the first diary entry, children can write their own introductory diary entries. Eva’s “to-do” list provides the opportunity to practice making task lists. The story’s cupcake recipe can easily be connected to a lesson related to math and following recipes.
The Owl Diaries is part of a recently introduced Scholastic series designed for newly independent readers. The target audience has been successful with leveled readers, but may not be ready for traditional chapter books. These books bridge the gap by providing “easy-to-read text, simple plotlines, plenty of context clues, and purposeful illustrations that aid reading comprehension”. Other Branches series include Boris, Kung Pow Chicken, Missy’s Super Duper Royal Deluxe, Princess Pink and the Land of Fake-Believe, Dragon Masters, Eerie Elementary, Looniverse, Lotus Lane, Monkey Me, and The Notebook of Doom. Each series features distinct storylines and visual elements that will appeal to different types of children. There’s something for everyone.
Young readers will be looking forward to the second book in this fun new series, Eva Sees a Ghost.
ARC Edelweiss used for review