When The Barred Owl Calls is a biographical novel about family values, love, heritage, and the positive role that caring grandparents play in the psychological and moral growth of their grandchildren.
Thirteen-year-old Johnny, and eighty-year-old Papa are the pivotal characters. Papas conviction is that what matters most in life is love, family and happy memories. His long-saved-for gift enabling the family to travel to Greece to tighten family ties defines and drives the story line. It is Johnnys experiences and maturation into being able to understand and benefit from Papas philosophy that unfolds.
Boy Scout Johnny anticipates a summer filled with Merit Badge activity, overnight adventures and projects with Papa who, although suffering from a heart condition and becoming more dependent on a walker, is still an active family member with wonderful interplay with his grandchildren.
When Greek Uncle Demetries wedding invitation arrives, Johnny must weigh his wants against his understanding of his mothers need to return to visit her roots in Greece, especially since Papas gift has made it possible for the children to accompany her.
Greece: We experience its blue sky, enchanting sea, mild climate, and the architecture of small villages when we stay with Yiayia and Papou. We visit Nerantia, Velo, and Athens; motor amid combat-zone drivers and traffic and roads that snake around mountains; witness animated arguments about politics and the art of haggling while shopping; and fish in the Corinthian Bay. Fresh foods surround us from the sardine and herring-laden pick-up trucks and the road-side fruit stands to dinner tables of Greek salad with feta cheese, goats milk with chocolate, koulouria, souvlakia, squid. At Uncle Demetries wedding we dance, laugh, eat more and talk loudly. We discover that Mama was sent to America because Aunt Sofia needed a dowry.
Johnnys world crumbles when Papa dies. Only Harly, Papas eighty-year-old friend can revitalize Johnny. In spite of Harlys aches and advancing years, Harly completed a BS in botany when 74 and still is an influencing life-force. It is Harly who takes Johnny camping, rescues a dog, and confides his own pain at losing loved ones and his secret for enjoying and dealing with life. Johnny determines that little brother, Jimmy, needs him, Johnny, particularly to teach him about Papa and Scouts and
Throughout, there is a gentle nurturing of love for people and animals and the belief that a benevolent God watches over us all. Some passages in the book will bring tears.
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From the first page to the last...a flawless and engaging novel for young readers. -- Midwest Book Review Childrens Bookwatch.
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