The Way Home (Owly #1)

by Andy Runton (Author) Andy Runton (Illustrator)

The Way Home (Owly #1)
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
Series: Owly

All Owly wants is a friend...

Owly is a good-natured little owl, and he's always helping those around him. But despite his kindness, he seems to frighten would-be friends away before they even give him a chance, just because he's an owl. That all changes, though, once Owly meets Wormy. Like Owly, Wormy is in need of a good friend, too -- someone who can be counted on for a helping hand, a good laugh, and a great adventure!

Through a unique blend of words and symbols, Owly can be read by the youngest readers, and is a great introduction to graphic novels!

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Kirkus Reviews

Runton's evocative characters are nothing short of huggably adorable and affirm the importance of compassion and empathy against perceived stereotypes... A simple but by no means simplistic tale emphasizing the universality of kindness.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 4—Owly is back, in color and with dialogue and narration! This book comprises two of the gentle little owl's earliest stories, "Finding Home" and "Flying Home" (formerly known as "The Bittersweet Summer"). In each, Owly gives selflessly, whether that means distributing food to other animals or taking a tumble to save someone smaller from danger. Unlike the other animals, who speak English, Owly speaks via pictures and symbols. Nonetheless, all communicate with ease; facial expressions, body language, and captions make characters' emotions and motives clear. Friends are always beaming in one another's presence and on the verge of tears when separated. As in previous installments, the rounded, large-eyed cartoon characters will endear themselves to readers, but now bright hues add further detail, effectively conveying Owly's sunny world and occasional shadows. Pages are almost never more than two panels wide, and each story wraps up on a high note over a few single-panel pages. Thick gutters make the frequent 2x3 layouts easy to follow. The loss of the wordless format from previous editions means young readers will learn to navigate over, around, and through short word balloons. Never fear: Runton's visual communication remains extremely fertile ground for parents and children to discuss how characters feel and why they act the way they do. VERDICT As always, Owly is a steadfast and indispensable friend to everyone he meets, including young readers in search of warmhearted adventure.—Thomas Maluck, Richland Library, SC

Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly

In this first volume of the new graphic novel series based on the popular Owly picture books and comics, a sweetly patient and persistent owl finds belonging and a faithful circle of friends through generous, helpful acts. In the first of the two stories, "Finding Home," kindhearted Owly rescues a drowning worm and sleeplessly tends to the shivering visitor. In the morning, upon learning that Wormy has been separated from his family, the two create a map and form a plan to reunite Wormy with his parents. In the second, "Flying Home," Owly and Wormy, now roommates with matching gardening hats and a shared interest in helping others, offer aid to two hungry hummingbirds and quickly befriend them. Runton's illustrations glow with vivid and lustrous color, the characters all delightfully expressive. There are hints of sadness and danger, such as the devastating storm that originally separated Wormy from his family, as well as a scene in which one of the hummingbirds is trapped in a cage. The majority of Owly's adventures, though, are buoyed by kindness and goodwill. Ages 7-10. (Feb.)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

"A cute little tale." — School Library Connection

Praise for the Owly series:

"Appeals to all ages... Equally noteworthy are the expressive drawings and universal lessons of persistence, kindness, and loyalty."— People

"Delightfully sweet... Even readers older than the target audience will appreciate the book's simple charm, wisdom, and warmth." — Booklist
Andy Runton

Andy Runton is the award-winning creator of Owly, which has earned him multiple awards, including the Eisner Award for Best Publication for a Younger Audience. The Owly books have been praised for their "charm, wisdom, and warmth" by Booklist, and said they are "one of the best comics for kids around. Period." Andy lives in the greater Atlanta area where he works full-time as a writer and illustrator. Visit him online at

Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
February 20, 2020
BISAC categories
JUV039060 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Friendship
JUV002040 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Birds
JUV002140 - Juvenile Fiction | Animals | Insects, Spiders, etc.
JUV008040 - Juvenile Fiction | Comics & Graphic Novels | Action & Adventure
JUV008110 - Juvenile Fiction | Comics & Graphic Novels | Humorous
JUV008050 - Juvenile Fiction | Comics & Graphic Novels | Animals
Library of Congress categories
Graphic novels
Cartoons and comics
Little Maverick Reading List
Selection 2021

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