Turn the page on owl picture book A Bit Lost
Chris Haughton's gentle tale stars an owl who goes AWOL
OWLS SEEM TO crop up everywhere in children’s literature, from the pompous yet feather-brained Owl in Winnie the Pooh to Harry Potter’s much-loved companion Hedwig. In A Bit Lost, another owl joins the parliament in the form of podgy Little Owl. “I think one of the most appealing things about owls is their wide, round eyes,” says author Chris Haughton. “Owls have both eyes on the front of their face, which gives them an almost human appearance.” Chris was inspired to write the story when he discovered that owl babies have a habit of falling out of trees and getting separated from their mothers. “Getting lost is an experience that most of us can identify with,” says Chris. “I remember losing my mother in a shopping centre when I was about three. It was terrifying – I was bawling my eyes out.”
Luckily, when Little Owl topples out of his nest, a friendly – if a little dopey – squirrel is on hand to help. The pair set off on a search for his mother and so the heart-warming tale begins, enhanced by quirky colour scheme – the sky is the colour of pea soup, the trees are a rich autumnal orange. “I wanted colours that were fun but not gaudy,” says Chris.
The eager squirrel points out a succession of possible owl mummies. First up is a big blue bear. “No! No!” cries Little Owl. “That’s not my mummy. My mummy has pointy ears.” Next, the squirrel tracks down a pointy-eared rabbit. But no, the Little Owl’s mother has big eyes, too. So is it a goggle-eyed frog? No, he’s not right either… but he does point the pair in the direction of Little Owl’s real mother, who is overjoyed to be reunited with her lost owlet.
A keen supporter of ethical trade, Chris has had his blue and pink Little Owl made into a toy by a Fairtrade craft collective he knows in Nepal. “I was talking to some of the guys and they thought it strange that Westerners think of owls as wise,” says Chris. “In Nepal, if you call someone an owl, you’re saying they are stupid.” Indeed, Little Owl doesn’t seem the brightest of the bunch. While the rest of the animals celebrate with tea and biscuits, Little Owl dozes off to sleep, teetering dangerously over the edge of the nest…
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