Reading Riot: I'm Not Reading! by Jonathan Allen
BABY OWL HAD JUST OPENED HIS BOOK WHEN ALONG CAME BABY CHICK.
"MAY I LISTEN, TOO?"
"ALL RIGHT," SAID BABY OWL. BUT I'M NOT READING UNLESS YOU SIT QUIETLY LIKE OWLY,"
Owly, Baby Owl's plush toy owl, is a model of storytime decorum. Baby Chick obligingly settles himself down with equally excellent deportment, and Baby Owl opens the book.
But proper storytime order is not meant to be. First Baby Chick's sisters and brothers and then what seems to be dozens of cousins' invade the story circle, climbing all over Baby Owl, perching on his head, on his lap, and even on the book itself, chirping and flapping, pushing and shoving, and totally invading his space! Baby Owl tips over backward and Owly is buried in a mass of yellow fluff and beaks and wiggly little chick legs.
This is not the proper way to listen to a story!
It sounds as if author Jonathan Allen must have made a few school visits and on at least one occasion had to face one of the toughest audiences in the world, the preschool story circle. His newest Baby Owl story, I'm Not Reading! (Boxer Books, 2013), recounts such a rowdy read-aloud event, with the audience proving to be overwhelming. Luckily for Baby Owl, Father and Mother Owl arrive in time to intervene and invoke the rules restoring proper story decorum, with Allen's strong-minded little hero finally in the driver's seat where he likes to be. The story gets read and all's well in the story circle at last, but Baby Owl and the rescued Owly are only too happy to say goodbye and settle down at home to let Daddy Owl do the reading to them.
Allen's stubborn little preschool protagonist gets the opportunity to see what it's like to be the one trying to enforce the rules in this humorous little story, and kids will giggle over the melee of fluff and squawks that result when the audience doesn't follow the rules and the message gets lost in the mayhem. This short and sweet story is best paired with others from this series such as Allen's tale of this adorable baby night owl in "I'm Not Sleepy!" or his "I'm Not Cute!" and I'm Not Ready! (Baby Owl).