Yours in Books
A picture book (love?) story told in letters between a furry bookshop owner, an avid, if a bit cranky, feathered reader, and their forest friends
Owl just wants some peace and quiet to read his books—alone. But when the forest youngsters ruffle his feathers, he enlists the local bookshop owner to send him handpicked books to help cope with the chaos and the mess. It’s not long before Owl discovers Squirrel, and learns that just as important as solitude are companionship and community. Told entirely in letters, this charming picture book celebrates books and bookshops, letter writing and love.
Illustrated by Gabriel Alborozo.
Signed, personalized books are available from Print: A Bookstore in Portland, Maine.
on ★ PW (starred review):
Owl T. Fencepost’s adventure begins when the fusty bird attempts to order How To Soundproof Your Forest Dwelling from the catalog of a nearby, squirrel-owned bookshop.
This very funny sendup of epistolary novels combines understated text with hyperbolic yet charming art. Distinctive voices and a large format make it perfect for reading aloud. When Owl pens the initial letter from “Top of Oak / Near the Clearing / and the Noisy Small Animals,” the letter details why Owl requests that particular book: “so that I might read in peace, alone.” The bird sits at the writing table, amid books and a quill pen in its inkwell, with large pillows deployed to muffle the noise. The formal letter appears opposite, on the recto. The following double-page spread follows this format, with a bespectacled squirrel searching colorful stacks on the verso. Concluding with the titular words, B. Squirrel signs the formal, regretful reply that the book is out of stock. Owl’s next request—for a handbook on moving to a remote island—is instead met with a gift: a book promoting life in the woods. Throughout, the pen-and-ink sketches with watercolor show a multitude of feathered, furry, and shelled neighborhood children, continuously—and sometimes rambunctiously—interacting with a bird who repeatedly declares a desire for solitude. The wise squirrel, whose signature familiarizes into Bessie over the course of the letter exchanges (by literal snail mail), recommends books that lead to positive changes in everyone’s lives.
A delightful tribute to books, friendship, and company. (Picture book. 4-8)
A treetop owl dwelling and a pine tree indie bookshop serve as the loci of this gentle epistolary picture book between exasperated, solitude-seeking Owl T. Fencepost and bespectacled bookseller Bessie Squirrel of Pine: A Bookshop. Falatko adroitly reveals the development of the duo’s relationship through subtle tonal and diction shifts as curmudgeonly Owl, initially intent on leaving the woods due to “all of the new noisy neighborhood children,” slowly begins to accept Bessie’s book recommendations via letter exchange—and subsequently opens up to the woodland community (“Yesterday afternoon, several young creatures knocked upon my door, wanting to ‘hang out,’ as they say”), before the narrative culminates in a sweet surprise. Alongside the letters, Alborozo adds fine-lined illustrations of dot-eyed anthropomorphic animals, rendered in a light-toned, vintage palette. A warmly cheerful homage to how books can kindle bonds, open minds, and unite community.