Owen at the Park
Owen at the Park
Owen worked in the park with his dad. Most of the time, it was boring. Owen would sweep the long boulevard or rake leaves, while his dad mowed the lawn. But once a week, there was a job that Owen loved. And this morning, he was going to do it by himself.
Owen doesn’t always love helping his dad work at the park – it can be pretty boring raking leaves while other children play soccer or ride bikes. But once a week, it’s all worth it! Before the sprinklers can be turned on and the fun can start, Owen needs to clear the park. This is the hardest part of the job for such a shy boy, but Owen is polite yet firm as he approaches a family enjoying a picnic, people playing a game of checkers, and even a flock of geese. Because Owen is a shy boy, it’s hard for him to approach strangers, but he takes a breath and musters up the courage needed. Once he finally has cleared the park, he is so proud of himself for overcoming that obstacle that he cannot stop smiling. And now for the fun part – he gets to turn on the sprinklers! Once the trees, grass, and dirt are sopping wet, the sprinklers turn off again, and everything becomes very quiet – everything but the water dripping down from the leaves. Owen and his dad are alone in this calm nature scene.
Ritchie tells a beautiful story that is the perfect read-aloud to share with shy children to help them overcome their social anxiety. Everyone feels shy sometimes, but if we find the strength to muster up our courage, we learn that it is all worth it in the end. Richie’s story has, at its heart, seemingly ordinary events, but they turn out to be much larger than we originally anticipated! Richie, who is also the illustrator of this story, was inspired by a trip to Tiergarten, a public park, in Berlin. The illustrations bring to life the key landmarks at the park, including bike paths, statues, tall ornamental trees, and the city scape in the distance. The reader becomes immediately immersed in the beautiful downtown Berlin park which seems to come to a halt at the end of the book when all is quiet, save for the water droplets dripping from the trees.
*Owen at the Park reads very much like a mystery, encouraging readers to continue to turn the pages to see what happens next, but readers are also encouraged to slow down to take in the incredible detail in each illustration.
Mallory Dawson, the Community Engagement Librarian at Whitby (Ontario) Public Library, loves reading with her two boys.