A Board Book Every So Often! No. 25
I’m Not Cute! by Jonathan Allen (Boxer Books 2008)
This is a book for everyone who’s had their cheek pinched, or been patted on the head, or even had their pushchair stopped in the street to have their cuteness commented on. Shout it out: “We’re not Cute!” …or at least, only when we want to be.
Baby Owl sees himself as a huge, sleek and scary hunting machine. Like every self-respecting owl, he has see-in-the-dark eyes and big soft and silent wings. Unfortunately, the other residents of the wood think he’s small, fluffy and cute, with big baby eyes. They just want to give him a hug.
But Baby Owl’s mum understands. She acknowledges his amazing skills, and he allows her to hug him. Then he rethinks the cute thing and throws a bit of a tantrum. His mum says he’s tired. The book ends with a bedtime story and Baby Owl tucked up to sleep, knowing that it’s all right for a scary hunting machine to seem cute to his mum.
I have to say this Baby Owl isn’t totally cute. Not as cuddly as the baby owls in Owl Babies, or as sweet as Little Owl in A Bit Lost, or as gorgeous as Wow Said The Owl. He’s got bandy chicken legs and currant bun eyes. He stamps, and frowns, and cringes when he’s patronised by Fox. He’s real. He’s EveryOwl.
This simple story is a lovely way to explore toddler frustrations and a burgeoning sense of identity. Jonathan Allen has written and illustrated many delightful picture books and Baby Owl runs up again in I’m Not Scared, I’m Not Sleepy etc. exploring other familiar situations. This one will run and run.