Children’s Book of the Week – Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson

Owl Babies Martin Waddell

Owl Babies is such a gorgeous picture book, telling of motherly love, but also of the bond between siblings too. It’s perfect for the under-fives – but be warned, because if you are anything like me, it will bring a tear to your eye. Or several.

The book starts with three baby owls, Sarah, Percy and Bill, waking up and wondering where their mummy is.

“I think she’s gone hunting,” said Sarah.

“To get us our food!” said Percy.

“I want my mummy?” said Bill.

But when their mummy takes a while to return, the owls start to worry about where she could be.

It’s here that Owl Babies always brings a lump to my throat, as Sarah suggests that Percy and Bill should come and sit with her on her branch. The big sister looking out for her younger brothers reminds me of my own children, echoing how caring Little Miss E is towards her two younger brothers. The idea of my three huddling together in fear wondering what has happened to me – or their daddy, for that matter, because you could just as easily replace the mummy of the book with any other significant adult in their lives – makes me want to cry.

But thankfully, it isn’t long before Mummy Owl comes back and the owl babies bounce up and down with excitement on their branch.

Owl Babies Martin Waddell


Patrick Benson’s illustrations are understated, yet striking. All the pages have a black background, which makes the emotions drawn on the young owls’ faces even more prominent. There’s only a small amount of text on each page, but those words say so much. The prose doesn’t rhyme but there is a very lyrical quality about it. My children soon caught on to the phrase that is repeated throughout – “They sat and they thought (all owls think a lot)”.

The book introduces children to the idea that even though a parent goes away, they will soon come back, making it perfect for little ones starting nursery or school for the first time, or those staying away from their parents for the first time.

First published in 1992, Owl Babies is a tender and heart-warming book. The text and illustrations might be simple, but the book is all the more powerful for it.

Have you read Owl Babies to your little ones? What did you think? I’d love to know what you think, either in the comments below, on the Cardiff Mummy Says Facebook page or by tweeting me on @cardiffmummy

You might also like my post on The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson.


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4 Comments to Children’s Book of the Week – Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson

  1. Love, love love Owl Babies! I’ve recommended it to so many parents of children starting school, it’s a great book to help with separation anxiety. ‘Sarah, Percy and Bill’s Mummy comes back and so will yours :)’

    • Cardiff Mummy Says

      It’s such a gorgeous book, isn’t it? So simple, but says so much. Like you say, a great one for helping children understand that their parents will be back. x

  2. esther james

    I absolutely love the sound and look of this. It would make a wonderful gift for any young child

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