Title: The Owl Hoots Twice at Catfish BendThe Owl Hoots Twice at Catfish Bend
Author: Ben Lucien Burman
Illustrator: Alice Caddy
Pages: 123
Reading Level: 8-12
Star Rating: ★★★

Our friends from Catfish Bend return!

The Story.

Catfish Bend’s been a right near happy place under the guidance of Old Doc Raccoon and his friends, Judge Black Snake and J.C. the fox. But change is afoot, and it all comes of the plotting and planning of that big gray fox that escaped from the New Orleans Zoo not too long ago. He came claiming to want sanctuary and protection from his horrible imprisonment, but not long after his arrival, his tune changed. He began singing the praises of the New Orleans way, claiming that their styles of living and government are more modern and progressive.

Before Doc’s very eyes he sees the silly minds of his people turning to the grey fox and his prattle about progress. He sees then the ambition and greed in the grey fox’s words. But what can be done before a war breaks out across the Bend?

Discussion.

There are quite a few things I like about the Catfish Bend Series, and all of them have to do with the way Mr. Burman treats his little animals. Because he gives them all of the real foibles that humans have.

When the grey fox shows up, no one has any reason to trust him. Life has been humdrum but peaceful in the Bend, and everyone is on good terms. There is no reason to be discontented or to forsake the steady leadership Doc Raccoon has offered to the community. But the animals are all ears to hear the opinion of this fox, this newcomer, this harbinger of progress and excitement. So the silly little animals do exactly what humans would do in their place and hurl themselves into a trajectory that could launch them into complete destruction.

Also, that. Most stories would have found a way for Doc Raccoon to avert the destruction and save the animals from their stupidity. But not here at Catfish Bend! The animals reap the full consequences of their gullibility and suffer huge losses in a war with the birds before they realize how dull they have been to break their treaties and laws at the advice of a conniving grey fox.

The entire war is foreseen by a “lady owl” who is “the best prophet around”. This isn’t elaborated.

Towards the end of the book, when the war comes to an end, the animals apologize to Doc and the others and they forgive them because they “knew it’d been just a kind of sickness”, which, while it’s true the animals hadn’t meant to act harmfully, I would have preferred it been called what it was – stupidity, bad judgment, and immaturity.

Conclusion. Good for children – also read The Strange Invasion of Catfish Bend.

Review © 2015 Laura Verret

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