WesleyTheOwlCoverBibliographic Information
Title: Wesley the Owl. The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and His Girl.

Author: Stacey O’Brien

ISBN: 978-1-4165-5173-7

Publisher: Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster

Copyright: 2008

Book Details
Jacket Design: Ellen R. Sasahara

Formats: Print, e-book

Page Count: 224

Awards: New York Time and Los Angeles Times Best Seller

Plot Summary

Biologist Stacey O’Brien adopts a baby owl, Wesley, who bonds to Stacey. She learns about owl behavior, owl personality, even the rudimentary owl language. In return, when Stacy is afflicted with a life-threatening illness, she learns of, and benefits from, the courage and unflagging affection of Wesley.

Critical Evaluation

Wesley the Owl combines hard science with a personal story, and explores themes of what it is to be intelligent, and to be in a relationship with another. Working at Cal Tech with other scientists, Stacey does ‘real’ research, but also learns from her direct relationship with one baby owl, Wesley. Her story explores her own inner life as well as avian science. It also looks into the inner life of an owl, and shows us it is far richer and more complex that we might imagine.

Are animals intelligent? Can they love? Humans have asked these questions time out of mind; this non-fiction story suggests the answer to both is a resounding yes.

Reader’s Annotation

Animals are not only more intelligent that we often think, they are more complex and far more emotional than we imagine. Turkeys, African Grey Parrots, and now a very special Barn Owl will open your eyes to their world, and the bonds of love and support we can share with them.

Information about the Author

Stacey O’Brien is a biologist who specializes in wild animal behavior. She is also involved in wildlife rescue, and is an animal rehabilitation expert specializing in owl research. She lives in California.


Non-fiction biology

Curriculum Ties

Biology class, psychology class. Can be used to explore animal behavior and our understanding of animal intelligence and emotion.

Booktalking ideas

Stacey has to make a number of compromises and concessions in her life in order to keep Wesley. Is it worth it?

Some aspects of Wesley’s behavior may seem “gross” to us. Are they? Would you tolerate them?

Does Wesley’s story suggest to you that we change our attitudes to animals, or treat them differently?

Reading Level/Interest Age
Interest Level: High
Reading Level: Middle grades on up through adult.

Challenge Issues

Sickness and death occur; when Wesley dies, it’s extremely heart-wrenching.



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