Mopoke by Philip Bunting

Mopoke is my new favourite picture book. I’ve always had a bit of a thing for owls, especially owls in literature and art. As a (former) teacher, I was often given owl cards and trinkets. Owl Babies by Martin Waddell is one of my favourite picture books and who doesn’t love Harry Potter’s Hedwig?

Philip Bunting is a Queensland based author and illustrator who has bowled me over with his debut picture book all about owls.

Mopoke is the common name for the southern boobook owl native to Australia. It’s a rather cute creature with a great call (see below).

Bunting has used his book to highlight the importance of fun and individual interpretation when reading books aloud to children. I tried Mopoke out on B16 who appreciated the humour. However he was concerned that the pages were too dark for little kids to enjoy!

I didn’t have that problem.

I found the simple but stylish colour palette and design eye catching and very reasonable (after all, we all know that owls are nocturnal). As a former preschool teacher, if my classes had commented on the dark pages, I would have used that as a great discussion starter about the nature, behaviour and habitats of owls.

The illustrations and text complement and enhance each other beautifully – it’s the classic ‘picture worth a thousand words’ scenario.

Mopoke is highly recommended for those with owl fetishes, lovers of fun word play and for the wise and discerning reader.

I found a video of a real life mopoke (below) and if you listen real close, you can hear his mates calling their distinctive two-tone call in the background.

Mopoke was published by Scholastic Australia Feb 2017.

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