Aaron Cash and his sister Shelley live on a dairy farm in Tennessee. Their neighbor Morgan Blackburn raises beef cattle and runs an illegal still which he does not want discovered. He shoots at Aaron and his father Nate to keep them away when they accidentally come upon the still. Morgan attempts to buy Nate off, but Nate refuses. When Morgan resorts to increasingly threatening acts—vandalism, arson—Aaron and Shelley find themselves caught in the struggle between their father and Morgan, leading to a final confrontation in which Aaron must make the most difficult decision of his life.
This appealing novel portrays a child on the brink of adulthood, relishing his childish games while at the same time becoming increasingly emerged in some extremely serious problems in which he finds he can exert some control. Important ideas economics, including the activities on the Cash family's dairy farm and the potential sale of their property, bring the story's setting to life, as do the unique woodcut illustrations.
—Yana van der Meulen Rodgers, associate professor, Women's and Gender Studies Department, Rutgers University
Peter Huggins’s poetic talents abound in this novel. He puts the reader in places, not to linger, but to experience and make a connection with the characters. Paula G. Koz’s woodcut illustrations enrich and add to the vivid details of the story. An award-winning poet and children’s author, Huggins is a professor in the English Department of Auburn University. Auburn should be proud.
As 11-year-old Aaron Cash discovers, the bewilderment of opaque evil intrudes on even the most bucolic of childhoods. Aaron's curiosity draws him inexorably into confrontation, endangering his entire family, and a single act of courage is his threshold to a wisdom that transcends both childhood and adulthood. His story, and Huggins's graceful telling of it, sneak up as quietly as a spring shower, but startle as fiercely as a copperhead strike.
—Tony Crunk, author of Stories from Real Life
Peter Huggins's poetic background is evident in this novel that employs both brevity and depth to tell a story that isn't afraid to show humans as the complex beings they are. In the Company of Owls
takes the reader into the dark world of owls and leaves us standing in the light. Morgan Blackburn is a character you won't soon forget.
—Irene Latham, author of What Came Before and Poems from The Big Table
An engaging story filled with vivid details and a valuable message about how fragile life really is. Also a good story to spark discussion on gun safety.
—Diane Shore, author of This is the Dream and This is the Feast
In the Company of Owls
includes the reader in the adventures, mishaps, and mischiefs of Aaron, an eleven-year-old on a dairy farm in Tennessee. Boys especially will relish the life he lives turkey hunting with his father, playing baseball with his pals, and roaming the woods near the river. Out of those woods comes a danger Aaron meets head on. His quick thinking saves his father's life but causes him to make a decision that changes his own life. In addition the reader has the fun of puzzling out the meaning of the book's title. The clues are all there. The illustrations, woodcuts by Paula G. Koz, enrich the story.
—Aileen Kilgore Henderson, author of Hard Times for Jake Smith
The pages are packed with danger, humor, and wisdom. Aaron Cash is a well-drawn Southern hero.
—Danny Schnitzlein, author of Trick or Treat on Monster Street, The Monster Who Did My Math, and The Monster Who Ate My Peas
Siblings Aaron and Shelley stumble upon a modern-day still. As if this doesn’t interrupt their idyllic youth enough, a mysterious owl-faced man and a series of misfortunes begin to plague their family’s farm. The two turn detectives, but learn that sleuthing out evil isn’t as simple as black or white, that stumbling into truth involves uncovering many layers of good and bad. A delightful brother-and-sister coming of age that is enhanced by Koz’s woodcuts.
—Joe Taylor, author of Some Heroes, Some Heroines, Some Others