Title: In the Company of Owls
Author: Peter Huggins
Illustrator: Paula G. Koz
Publisher: Junebug Books
Concepts: producers, natural resources, property rights
Review: Eleven-year old Aaron Cash feels completely in his element living on a dairy farm in rural Tennessee: he has plenty of space to roam about outside and play at will, the milk he drinks at school comes from his family's cows, and he has a tight-knit set of friends. But trouble quickly stirs up this idyllic lifestyle when he and his father Nate stumble upon an illegal still operated by their neighbor Morgan Blackburn, only to become the objects of gunfire from the ever-watchful Blackburn.
Under the guise of wanting to expand his land holdings for his beef cattle to graze on, Blackburn offers Nate a nice sum of money to buy the Cash family's land, but Nate sees through the ploy and refuses to sell. Aaron witnesses the escalation of Blackburn's attempts to intimidate his family, and in his own way he prepares to stand up to Blackburn no matter what the cost.
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.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children