The Disobedient Owl

It is common to find anthropomorphized plants and animals in stories for children, as these can be accessible characters for discussing some of the more challenging components of life. However, it is rare that these characters are true to their real-life counterparts. This series of books—originally written by Carl Ewald over one hundred years ago and recently translated from their original Danish by William V. Zucker for a modern audience—is a more accurate approach to the natural world. I learned a lot through the stories in this collection!

Book 1: The Disobedient Owl

When admiring nature from afar, it is easy to overlook the intricacies of the natural world, but closer investigation reveals truths that keep the global community in balance. This book includes a collection of ten stories that feature an assortment of characters from the natural world. From spiders and trees to owls and bees, these living things are each given a voice as they describe their individual realities. Readers are exposed to the complexities of nature through these stories and will come away with a better understanding of the natural world after engaging with the accessible tales included in this book.

Book 2: The Orphaned Ducklings

Humans and nature have always existed in a delicate balance, each relying upon the other for various needs. However, humans have easily dominated nature, often taking what they desire without regard to the consequences left in the wake of these decisions. This book includes ten short stories that feature an assortment of animals interacting with humans in various ways. Whether enjoyed in pieces or all at once, this book is sure to inspire readers of all ages to carefully consider their behavior in their everyday lives.

Book 3: The Unfortunate Carp!

Water is home to animals and plants of many kinds, and its depths are in many ways still a mystery to humans. In this collection of tales, readers are introduced to several characters who live in and around water, their lives interconnecting in myriad ways. Shorter than the first two installments in this collection, this book nonetheless includes twelve stories that are bookended by a short introduction and conclusion. Readers of all ages will learn something new about water-dwellers after experiencing this selection of stories.

Originally written in Danish by Carl Ewald in the late eighteen-hundreds, these stories are getting a new life thanks to translator William V. Zucker. As a contemporary of Charles Darwin, Ewald was greatly influenced by the research and discoveries occurring in his time, and he felt compelled to make this information easily accessible to young children through his writing. Delivered in the form of fables, these tales primarily feature dialogue and interaction among the characters who are recognizable residents of the natural world, and the stories are easily absorbed by young readers.

Each of the stories in this collection is succinct, taking place over a handful of pages and subdivided into even shorter chapters. Despite the fact that these tales were originally written over one hundred years ago, they are remarkably accessible to a contemporary audience through Zucker’s translations. Evidence of the thoughts of Ewald’s time are present in the stories—including both Charles Darwin’s research and widespread gender stereotypes—but the overall messages continue to be universal in a modern setting.

Colorful illustrations break up each of the stories to provide readers with a visual respite after blocks of text which help to orient readers to the appearance of the characters in each story. Best read aloud, these tales are educational for readers of all ages and will be enjoyed by adults and children alike. It is important to note that harsh language is occasionally used and may need to be adjusted depending on the age of the audience. Each book in this series includes its own collection of unique stories, and readers are sure to learn something new from every tale. This is a unique and educational collection of tales for readers curious about the inner workings of the natural world.

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