Billy Hooten: Owlboy
by Thomas E. Sniegoski
illustrated by by Eric Powell
Billy Hooten: Owlboy is a 2007 Cybils nominee.
Billy Hooten is just an ordinary boy who likes comic books and tries to avoid the school bully. He likes reading about comic book super-heroes, but he never imagines that he’ll become one! But when he hears a cry for help coming from the cemetery, Billy doesn’t think twice; he rushes to the rescue. What he finds in the Sprylock family crypt, though, is quite unexpected: a small goblin being threatened by a pig-headed monster. Once the monster is out of commission, the goblin, whose name is Archebold, tells Billy that he may be the next Owlboy, hero of Monstros City, which exists underground with an entrance in the crypt. Billy refuses to believe at first, but gradually he is drawn into the world of Monstros City and the role of Owlboy. Being a super-hero is much harder than Billy ever imagined, but it’s not without it’s rewards, either!
Billy Hooten: Owlboy is one of those books that I would never have picked up if it weren’t for the Cybils, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. The plot is simple but fun, and there’s more character development than I expected for a book with a comic book super-hero theme. Billy is very much an ordinary kid, which makes it easy to identify with him. While he does get some super-powers as Owlboy, he also learns that being a super-hero requires intelligence, self-sufficiency, and sometimes just plan hard work, such as when he works all night to alter the Owlboy costume so that it fits. The illustrations by comic book artist Eric Powell are a good complement to the story. This is a book that should appeal to reluctant readers, especially comic fans.