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One Odd Old Owl (Child's Play Library) Hardcover – January 1, 1996
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From the Publisher
Use as many of the special features of One Odd Old Owl as seem appropriate for the reader's age. Children under three will love the pictures, the musical quality of the text and the dramatic play. At four they will find the hidden birds and many of the hidden letters. At six, they will enjoy the idea of secret codes with a patient adult who can help them in their discoveries. At seven to nine, an interested adult should be available for questioning and at ten and over, it's a challenging and amusing solitary or social activity.
The cumulative nature of the story (each new page of text repeats and adds to the previous text), the rhymes and rhythm, the predictable pattern, the high interest vocabulary and the rollicking good time to be had in the reading and in discovering all the hidden 'treasures' combine to make One Odd Old Owl an unbeatable reading development tool.
Are there really fifty-six birds? Count 'em. Or count only 10 toucans, 9 cockatoos, 8 parrots and add them up. You really should do it. You can never be sure with Paul Adshead! Be active, especially with eight year olds and under - Snore, flap your wings every time new birds fly in and make each one's noise. Hammer with your beak. Let's see those knees knocking. Stick your arms out in front of your body and clitter-clatter them together like a giant toucan's beak. There now. Doesn't that feel better?
About the Author
When asked to write a brief autobiographical account of how I came to be so interested in art, music and wildlife, I found myself faced with a problem. Most people would be able to list their achievements or qualifications, and mention how and where they had trained. I can no none of this, having no training or qualifications at all. On reflection, it seems that various circumstances and events during my childhood have shaped my life.
When I was young, my father would tell me a different story every night, improvised on any subject I chose. Perhaps this has led to my own fondness of telling stories. So here is another story - not an imaginary story this time, but a true one...
One of my earliest childhood memories is of being ill in bed with the measles. To keep me amused, my mother would sit on the bed and draw pictures for me to colour. I can still recall the picture on one particular day. A weasell sat on a log, surrounded by mounts of autumn leaves and conkers. Proud of the finished result, mother asked if there was anything else I would like as a special present to cheer me up. Without a moments hesitation, I replied, "A tortoise".
Although the request was not quite what she had expected, my very first pet arrived later that afternoon and was given the name of Fred! I remember being fascinated by his every movement, especially his trick of being able to withdraw into his shell. He was later joined by a rabbit, and the three of us would go on picnics together. They were happy, carefree days, but they came to a sudden end when it was time to start school.
Up till that time I had spent very little time with other children; always preferring my own company and that of various little creature I adopted. Only a few days after starting school, something happened that has probably affected me ever since. During my walk home, which took me down a long, narrow lane, an older schoolboy chased after me brandishing a knife, shouting that he was going to kill me. Even now I can hear the pounding of his footsteps behind me as I raced towards home. I had no desire to ever return to school again, but of course I had no choice. In an attempt to rectify matters, the headmaster paraded me through every classroom until I found the culprit. But instead of solving the problem, this only served to isolate me further from all the other children. From hen on I was a marked person, often I would arrive in the morning to find my books torn and my desk upside-down. Just like the tortoise, I began to withdraw into my shell. More and more I came to appreciate any time I could spend alone.
At six and a half years old, I acquired my first pair of walking boots. They had animal footprints on the soles, and each one had a tiny pocket in the heel to hide a sixpense, in case of emergency. So, suitably shod, with my precious binoculars around my neck, and sketchpad and pencil in my pocket, I would spend many happy hours on nature rambles with my Uncle and Aunt.
I remember walking to "secret places" in the wood to feed the squirrels. I had a pocket full of peanuts, and the long tailed tits, nuthatches and chaffinches would fly down to my hand to take them.
Another day in the forest we fed all our sandwiches to a herd of fallow deer. Then later we were so hungry we ate the wild black cherries growing along the lane.
Returning home I would spend hours making detailed drawings of the creature s I had seen. More often than not, 'dressing them up' in imaginary outfits of clothing. More an more I would daydream in a fantasy world of little creatures to escape the reality of an unhappy school life.
From early on I had earned the nickname 'Birdboy', because of being more familiar with the names of feathered friends than my so-called school friends. My school report that year proved true indeed. It said 'Paul's artwork is very promising, but he finds it difficult to make friends."
As I grew older, my collection of pets gradually increased. Several rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, gerbils, a budgerigar, and a duck, along with any orphaned or injured wild birds I happened to find.
About this time, I began to take an interest in music, and started piano lessons. I took to it immediately, and a few months after beginning to learn, I composed my first piece of music 'Waltz in F'.
It was very interesting for me to find something that could give me so much pleasure. My mind became filled with music, and nothing satisfied me more than the composition of a new etude or nocturn. Every single afternoon I would rush home from school, and sit straight down at the piano not even pausing to remove my coat. Then without stopping I would play for an hour or more until all thoughts of school had left me and I felt relaxed once more.
The following five years in senior school were no happier. I lived for the time when I would be able to leave. Finally I opted to leave six months early, taking only my final exams in Art an English. Although I took both of these exams my papers were somehow lost. I always thought that I was a ploy to force me to stay on at school longer, but my mind was made up. I left school without any regrets, but also without any qualifications what so ever.
My first job was in a gift shop. This gradually got me used to being with other people and began to undo some of the ill effects of years earlier. My bird collection increased further with the addition of several pairs of ducks, some rare breeds of poultry, peacocks and my most loyal companion of all - Toby, a yorkshire terrier. His delightful personality and gentleness with all the other creatures inspired me to begin writing short stories and verses to accompany the pictures I still painted of them all.
So a few years later when the shop closed down, I decided not to seek reemployment immediately, but to take writing and illustrating more seriously and seek publication.
But that is quite another story..........