An Irish translation of the bestselling picture book Owl Babies was released in 2012. Originally written in English by the talented storyteller and award winning author Martin Waddell, this lovely picture book is what I’d call a “must have”.
It resonates with the full emotional power of a young one calling out for his mother. Three owl babies, Sarah and Percy and Bill, wake up one night to find their owl mother has gone. They sit and wait, wondering where she has got to and when she’ll be back. Repetition of the phrase “I want my Mummy!” by the littlest owl dramatically captures children’s attention. If there are any tense moments in the waiting, it is a useful build-up within the story and serves its purpose well. Young listeners will be totally reassured at the joyful moment when the owl mother returns. There is spontaneous jumping up and down and bouncing from the little owls, in sheer joy. Then the reassuring message and a plug for faith in the constancy of a mother, as the owl mother says; “What’s all the fuss? You knew I’d come back.”
I was lucky enough to hear the author speak many years ago at a children’s literature conference where he mentioned the circumstance that sparked off his creation of the story. He was in a busy supermarket, and a little boy was calling out “I want my Mummy!” In the middle of his talk, Martin Waddell himself called out (to the stunned silence of the intellectuals and academics at the conference) “I want my Mummy!” No professional actor could have uttered these words with more feeling! He really woke everyone up through his amazing rendition, dramatically demonstrating the emotion and heart-felt plea of a child behind these simple words.
A former children’s librarian, Jane Fagan is currently a full-time mother of two.