When Tanna’s father brings home an abandoned owl, she is not eager to take care of the needy, ugly little bird. Tanna must wake at 4:00 a.m. to catch food for the owl. She must feed it, clean up after it, all while avoiding its sharp, chomping beak and big, stomping talons. After weeks of following her father’s instructions on how to care for the owl, Tanna must leave home for school. Her owl has grown. It has lost its grey baby feathers and is beginning to sprout a beautiful adult snowy owl coat. As she says good-bye to the owl, she is relieved not to have to care for it anymore, but also a bit sad. This heartwarming story based on the author’s own life experience teaches young readers the value of hard work, helping, and caring—even when the thing you are caring for does not love you back.
The heartwarming text is based on Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley's (Inuit-Cree) own childhood experiences...Kang's use of a soft, muted palette pairs well with the text to make the story come alive for readers. Ably demonstrates to young readers the value of doing a difficult but important job.
A realistic and entertaining tale of animal rescue and the thrill of seeing an animal return to the wild to live.
Tanna’s Owl by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, illustrated by Yong Ling Kang (Inhabit Media, 5-7) perfectly captures the sense of connection between the Inuit and the Arctic environment they live in.
The friendly, unsentimental narration is a far cry from saccharine stories of wild animals becoming beloved pets; Tanna understandably finds Ukpik a chore (and her brothers had “seen Ukpik eat. They said she was gross”), and it’s clear early that the owl is a predator and not a toy. Kang’s digital art in line and watercolor style is low key in its streamlined figures but perceptive in its inclusion of details about Tanna’s Canadian Inuit lifestyle, from the huskies relaxing outside their house to the coral chunks of fish the family enjoys (and eventually shares with Ukpik); the returning Ukpik in her snowy glory contrasts effectively with the homey earthtones. This is a different kind of wildlife story that’s more about the rigors of service than the temptation of ownership, and kids will appreciate the realism and humor as well as the eventual reward.
[T]his story gives a well-rounded picture of caring for a wild animal that doesn’t diminish the hard or unpleasant aspects of that experience—shown to great effect in Kang’s simple yet expressive illustrations. However, it also reinforces the Inuit belief that no one owns an animal. Based on Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley’s own childhood experience, this #OwnVoices story accessibly incorporates aspects of the authors’ Inuit-Cree (Rachel) and Scottish-Mowhawk (Sean) ancestry and expertise in Arctic traditions.
Based on Burt Award–winning, Inuit-Cree author Rachel Qitsualik-Tinsley’s childhood memories of growing up on Baffin Island, this outstanding picture book shares essential teachings on the importance of responsibility, patience, and respect.
Framed by Rachel’s greeting, Tanna’s Owl is rooted in lived experience and celebrates the interconnectedness of Arctic ecology. Yong Ling Kang’s warm illustrations depict sweeping Arctic landscapes and vast skies. Despite frustrations, Tanna’s dedication to raising Ukpik teaches children that caring for something outside oneself is valuable and worthwhile. Tanna’s relationship with Ukpik also emphasizes the importance of respectfully engaging with nature and learning from the creatures with which we share our planet. Tanna’s Owl is a poignant and uplifting read that will inspire all who read it to be better stewards of the environment.