Saturday, March 16, 2024

Today's read... Orris and Timble: The Beginning by Kate DiCamillo

I picked up today's read the moment I saw the cover. While the owl and the mouse offer a nice contrast, it was the owl's tilt of the head, which had me smiling...and those big, yellow eyes. I'm expecting this to be an interesting tale of friendship with, maybe, a bit of fun. It's the first in a new chapter book series, so I am curious to see how it's going to play out.

Orris and Timble #1
by Kate DiCamillo
Illustrated by Carmen Mok
Candlewick Press
Chapter Book
80 pages
ages 5 to 8

APRIL 30th!!!

From beloved storyteller Kate DiCamillo comes the first book in a warm and funny early-reader trilogy about a misanthropic rat and a naive owl—and the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Orris the rat lives alone in an old barn surrounded by his treasures, until the day his solitude is disrupted by a sudden flutter of wings and a loud screech. A small owl has gotten caught in a trap in the barn. Can Orris “make the good and noble choice” (as the king on his prized sardine can might recommend) and rescue the owl, despite the fact that owls and rats are natural enemies? And if he does, will he be ready for the consequences? With humor and tenderness, two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo brings us this first of three tales celebrating unlikely friendship and the power of sharing stories and doing the right thing—a soon-to-be classic brought to expressive life by the full-color illustrations of Carmen Mok.


This owl and rat's rocky start to a friendship has the potential to become a beloved series for many years to come.

Orris lives alone in an old barn...well, he does have a sort of friend, but since that's a picture on a sardine can, it might not really count. When an owl gets caught in a trap in the barn, Orris is very hesitant to help out. After all, he doesn't want to become a meal, but the sardine can king holds the saying 'make the good and noble choice', so he can't ignore the owl's pain. Orris hopes the owl won't kill him right away, but what truly happens is more than he could have ever expected.

This is a well-done chapter book. The font is large for easy reading purposes and carries a very age appropriate level, which fits well for those who read smoothly but still need to practice before heading on to bigger books. The chapters are kept short to avoid reading frustration, and there are many illustrations to help with the story and offer needed breaks along the way. It's a gentle tale with just enough tension to keep it exciting and holds several surprises. 

The illustrations are well done and bring the personalities of the characters across well. There's a touch of humor (I had to smile at the owl's huge eye peering through the hole), and it's fun to flip through these on their own.

Orris is a mouse to sympathize with as he shoves his fear aside to do what's right—very noble. And as the owl, Timble, returns, the uncertainty radiates from the page. The author weaves in the tale of The Lion and the Mouse, which adds a nice touch, while still allowing Orris and Timble's adventure to take on a direction of its own.

The ending wraps this first installment up well while still leaving room for plenty more to come. It will be fun to see what this duo experiences next.

And here they are...

Kate DiCamillo is one of America’s most beloved storytellers. She is a former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and a two-time Newbery Medalist. Born in Philadelphia, she grew up in Florida and now lives in Minneapolis.

Carmen Mok is an award-winning illustrator of several acclaimed picture books with experience in product design, hand-lettering, and graphic design. She studied studio art at the University of Waterloo and craft design at Sheridan College, both in Ontario. Carmen Mok lives in Toronto, Canada.

Orris & Timble clip feat. Kate DiCamillo and Carmen Mok from Candlewick Press on Vimeo.

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