Book Review: Owly Volume 5: Tiny Tales
Publication Date: October 22, 2008
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
· Andy Runton
by R.J. Carter
Published: December 4, 2008
Andy Runton's brilliant all-ages comic enters its fifth collected volume. The gentle and charming stories about this round little owl and his forest friends are stellar examples of storytelling that transcends language -- a good thing, as there is almost zero textual narrative in an Owly story, with the communication lying squarely on the action and the sequence of art.
This particular volume reprints shorts that predate the comic series, or sequences which were published in other venues as well as the Owly issues created exclusively for Free Comic Book Day. These "Tiny Tales" include some full-length stories like "Splashin' Around" which finds Owly and Wormy entering a bird-bath competition (they're both avid bird watchers), and "Helping Hands" in which Owly helps his bunny friend with making a birthday gift as well as getting over her phobia of getting her hands dirty.
Stories that are shorter (although just as long on cuteness) include "Hangin' Up to Dry," a single-page strip where Owly discovers a fallen nest of baby birds, and "Let's Go Fly a Kite," which teaches the lessons of kindness to others and how it reciprocates in the end.
The beauty of Owly is that the stories are tailor made for younger readers, but challenging enough that older readers can enjoy them. It's also a great book for parent/child reading time, as it lets the child take on the responsibility of being the storyteller, allowing him or her to do so facilely thanks to the elegant simplicity of the panels. Runton gets what makes the comics medium work, and it shows. Owly is highly recommended for younger readers and their parents.