The Owl Prowl Mystery

The Owl Prowl Mystery
Publisher Name
Fitzroy Books
Age Range
Release Date
August 13, 2024
Ever since the Backyard Rangers saved turtles in their town, Miles thought his troubles were behind him. But adjusting to his new school hasn’ t been easy, and now there’ s a new wildlife problem. Birdwatchers and paparazzi are flocking to see Marsh Hollow’ s newest celebrity, “ Bella” the barred owl. The crowds are putting all of Marsh Hollow’ s owls on a deadly collision course with humans. Miles and his friends spring into action, launching a campaign to protect their feathery friends. When Miles discovers that someone is baiting and trapping owls, wildlife photographers, birders, neighbors, and kids all become suspects. Soon, owls aren’ t the only thing that’ s threatened— secrets, tensions, and a rival group of rangers put friendships to the test. Will this be the end of the Backyard Rangers? Or can they band together and solve the mystery before more owls get hurt?

Editor review

1 review
Helping animals may hurt them
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
What worked:
The book focuses on a group of nature-conscious kids who call themselves the Backyard Rangers. The story is told through the eyes of Miles and his attitude seems more relatable than the other characters, especially Pia. Pia is gung-ho to save the local owls as she tells Miles that some of his Halloween decorations might endanger the birds living in the neighborhood. Readers will follow these kids as they learn more about owls and try to inform citizens about the best ways to keep them safe. The author includes a couple of subplots involving Miles and a fellow ranger named Delaney. Miles gets caught up in a class competition and lies about something he’s seen. Delaney has a secret of her own that she shares with Miles in confidence. Their relationship will be put to the test when emotions begin to boil over.
The narrative includes many references to animal facts that will educate and interest young readers. The Rangers are very conscious of owl safety so much of the information focuses on it. Readers will learn where they like to live, what they like to eat, and they’re feeding habits. Miles finds many pellets near his home that contain undigestible material owls have eaten. His class learns what was eaten by examining these pellets. His town has a woman who is dedicated to rescuing injured owls and introducing them back into nature. The Rangers learn that humans sometimes do things to help owls that may be harmful to them.
The plot’s mystery involves protecting owls although the actual danger isn’t clear. The biggest concern is generated when the class discovers unnatural materials in some owl pellets that might indicate someone is baiting the owls. Netting hidden in the woods and a pile of feathers add to the mystery and may signal owls are experiencing more serious threats. The Backyard Rangers act like detectives and generate lists of suspects, motives, and opportunities to commit the suspected infractions. Motive is the most puzzling ingredient. What does a suspect gain by baiting or potentially harming the owls?
What didn’t work as well:
The characters sometimes refer to themselves as bird nerds which doesn’t make them immediately attractive to young readers. Nerd isn’t a positive label to them. In addition, the main conflict of the story lacks clarity and urgency which might create tension and suspense for readers. In fact, the “crime” being investigated might not even be illegal.
The final verdict:
Nature lovers should enjoy this book since it focuses on owls and the environment. The Backyard Rangers are an enthusiastic team but the actual conflict doesn’t generate the drama readers might expect. It’s still an entertaining, informative story so give it a shot!
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