Like many students with a middle school required reading list, I fell in love with Farley Mowat’s prose, truth, research and storytelling through “Never Cry Wolf.” I’d go on to search for his books for many years — and still do. 

A middle grade novel, “Owls in the Family” is a fun sidestep from the majority of Mowat’s other works — which span some 25 books reflecting his time serving in World War II, two years in the Arctic which followed and his years of traveling to remote and wild places. Many of his works have become internationally known, and translated into a number of languages. 

In “Owls in the Family,” Mowat continues the evocative and descriptive writing he is so well known for. On these pages, young animal-lover Billy already has a menagerie of animals — from crows and magpies to a dog and a gopher. After a terrible storm blows an owl’s nest from a tree, and only one owlet survives, Billy takes it into his care among his other pets. “Wol” adapts well, becoming a member of the family. Not long after, Billy has the chance to adopt yet another orphaned owl — this one is named “Weeps.”

Wol and Weeps are Billy’s constant companions. They join him when he plays ball, camps with the family, rides his bike or plays with friends. 

The two owls learn to fly. As the raptors continue to grow, their nature and wild begins to take over, it leads to shenanigans and slight terrorizing of the local neighborhood. 

The short book is a collection of entertaining stories about the owl pair and the boy who raises them. A warm and funny adventure, “Owls in the Family” is an excellent story for young readers or as a family read. It has been noted the novel is also a lesson that wild animals should not be raised by unqualified humans — but rather a wildlife rescue should be contacted. 

“Snowdrifts still clung along the steep banks of the river, in the shelter of the cottonwood trees. The river was icy with thaw water and, as we crossed over the Railroad Bridge, we could feel a cold breath rising from it. But we felt another breath, a gentle one, blowing across the distant wheat fields and smelling like warm sun shining on soft mud. It was the spring wind, and the smell of it made us walk faster.”