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Review: ‘Owls’ by Wayne Lynch

I’m a late night person—OK—owl, and one of the things I love about spending time in Maine each summer is listening to an owl call from behind my family’s house. I never hear it until well into the night, and have never been able to pinpoint the species, but it’s something I always try to do, guide in hand.

In this title, in addition to discovering the best place to view the most species (Washington state or British Columbia), I read that teachers report that owls are one of the first birds children learn to recognize.

Title: Our Amazing World: Owls
Wayne Lynch
Series: Our Amazing World
Developed by: Matchbook Digital LLC
Platform: iOS, requires 3.2 or higher 
Price: $2.99

Gr 4 Up-Vibrant photos of an incredible variety of owls are the strength of this title. Each screen features a bird or birds in natural settings, almost always up close, and in exquisite detail. Scrolling down from each photo reveals a paragraph of information about the creature, while tapping the screen pulls up a row of thumbnail photos that serves as an easy-to-use table of contents.

Captions identify the species of the bird and the location of the photo, while the text covers such topics as the animal’s diet, the insulating qualities of its feather, migratory habits, predators, size, and owl hygiene. Some of the text is tied tightly to the species, some relates to all owls, and occasionally the text is at odds with the photo. The main point of the paragraph under the image of the Ferruginous pygmy-owl refers to the markings on the back of the bird’s head, but the photo offers only a frontal view of the species.

A Western Screech-owl chick from 'Owls' (Lynch) Matchbook Digital

Viewers from early childhood up will be intrigued by the photos. Though the  information is not organized with the student researcher in mind, elementary and middle school browsers may find the content helpful in connecting with their own environment, school projects on owl pellets, or their ability to envision the Owlery at Hogwarts. The app does not include sound or interactive elements.—Chris Gustafson, Whitman Middle School, Seattle, WA