I have written many Master Owl stories for 7-11 year olds, early readers.
The image below shows a mock-up of this early reader book.
Here is a sample of some of these stories. They each feature an animal who is not happy, a 'Magical Mindful Moment' with Master Owl, followed by a big realisation and a shift to happiness. Enjoy.
The Mean Squirrel
There was one animal that never stopped working in the autumn months. He is called Mr Squirrel.
The race was on for him to collect up as many acorns as possible. He stored them, high up in his tree, in a special place.
He was so greedy that when he can’t hold any more acorns in his little hands, he stuffed one in each of his cheeks! He looked quite stupid, but he didn’t care.
Mr Squirrel didn’t care what he looked like because he didn’t have any friends.
He was a miserable old squirrel.
‘Come on, come on, quickly quickly’ he mumbled to himself. He worked fast to collect up all the acorns before the other animals found them.
Before long his storage room was brimming with nuts. He couldn’t fit anymore in there. He was a total hoarder. Mr Squirrel was very, very silly and he only thought about himself.
Time went on.
The autumn turned into winter. The first flakes of snow started to fall.
It turned the wood in a magical white wonderland. Mr Squirrel stayed warm and cosy in his tree home, sleeping next door to his massive pile of food. He would not be running out of acorns this winter.
On the other side of the wood, there on a branch, with his eyes closed, covered in snow, sat wise Master Owl.
He loved the peace and silence of the winter. He had so many warm feathers that he never got cold.
Little flakes of snow landed on his head and his beak, but he didn’t move. He was having a Magical Mindful Moment, noticing the gentle sound of the wind moving through the trees. He could feel the bark of the branch under his feet.
His apprentice and friend Miss Bunny was not sitting out in the cold. She was tucked up warm and snug in her little house at the bottom of Master Owl’s home tree. She had a roaring fire going and was drinking a lovely cup of tea. Then suddenly she heard a loud THUMP in the snow outside her front door.
She went out to see what made the noise. She found Master Owl lying on the ground on his back chuckling to himself! He had been feeling so peaceful on his favourite branch that he fell off and landed in a deep pile of freshly fallen snow!
‘Are you OK Master Owl?’ asked Miss Bunny, a little worried.
‘Hello Miss Bunny. Sorry to disturb you and bring you out into the cold.’ He replied.
‘That’s fine’ she said, ‘but what are you doing?’
‘Snow angels’, he said, as he flapped his wings backwards and forwards in the snow!
With his huge wings he made the best snow angel Miss Bunny had ever seen. She jumped in the snow and had a go too, but her little bunny arms only made a very small snow angel. She loved the snow, at least for a short time anyway.
They both started giggling and their laughter filled the quiet wood for a few moments. Then she wanted to head back into the warmth of her little house and get warm again.
Master Owl flew back up to his branch and settled back down for some more peaceful moments.
As the winter wore on, many of the other animals started to run out of food and became really hungry. They knew that Mr Squirrel had a huge stockpile of food, so they knocked on his door and asked if he could spare any of his acorns.
‘Can I have some food please?’ asked Mr Hedgehog.
‘NO! GO AWAY!’ He shouted, rudely.
‘Can you spare some nuts please?’ asked Mrs Mouse.
‘Sorry, I cannot HEAR you!’ he shouted back.
‘But we are hungry’ cried the other animals, ‘please can we have some of your food?’
‘No you can’t. It’s my food. You should have collected more food before the winter arrived. Leave me alone.’
Mr Hedgehog, Mrs Mouse and the other animals left, feeling sad, cold and hungry. They really, really didn’t like Mr Squirrel. He was the most annoying and silly animal in the whole wood. No wonder he didn’t have any friends.
As the winter months wore on, the snow eventually started to melt and life returned once more to the forest. Beautiful lime green leaves started to open on all the trees. Fresh new flowers started popping up all over the place. Miss Bunny loved the spring time.
One sunny spring morning, Master Owl and Miss Bunny were enjoying a Magical Mindful Moment together. They were both sitting on Master Owl’s favourite branch, although Miss Bunny has made a little seat to sit on.
‘Master Owl falls off his branch all the time’, she thought to herself, ‘maybe he would like me to make him a seat.’
As she was thinking this, they were nearly both knocked off the branch as Mr Squirrel came charging past them muttering under his breath. ‘Get out of my way, get out of my way.’
‘Who was that?’ asked a shocked Miss Bunny.
‘That was my old friend Mr Squirrel’, replied Master Owl. ‘He hasn’t changed. Always in a mad rush collecting up food.’
After a few moments, Mr Squirrel came back down the tree towards our mindful heroes. He tripped on a little branch and dropped his handful of acorns which he had been collecting. All the food fell to the ground.
Mr Squirrel stopped and looked like he was about to scream. He looked at Master Owl and Miss Bunny and stopped moving all together.
‘My dear Mr Squirrel’ said Master Owl kindly, ‘would you join Miss Bunny and me for a Magical Mindful Moment?’
‘I have no idea what that is’ replied the worried looking squirrel.
‘Let me show you’ said Master Owl ‘it’s really very simple’.
Mr Squirrel sat down on the branch between Miss Bunny and Master Owl. He didn’t need a seat, he was very good at climbing trees. Probably the best tree climber in the wood in fact.
‘Right’ said Master Owl, ‘now close your eyes both of you and take a deep breath in . . . and then let it out slowly. And another breath in . . . and out again.’
Mr Squirrel and Miss Bunny felt their bodies relax as they noticed their breath going in and out of their noses.
Mr Squirrel was really quite shocked. He was so busy normally that he hadn’t noticed his breathing before.
Master Owl then asked them to notice the feel of the bark under their feet. He asked them to listen to the noises all around them in the woodland.
Mr Squirrel had never noticed the feel of the bark under his feet. And he certainly has never noticed the sounds in the wood. This was all a very new experience for him.
Then Master Owl asked his students to notice how they were feeling. Mr Squirrel felt this huge surge of sadness rise up inside him and he started to cry.
Big drops of tears splashed down his cheeks and fell all the way to the ground. Any little animal on the ground might have thought it had started raining.
‘Well done Mr Squirrel’ said Master Owl gently, ‘it’s good to notice how we are feeling and in this case, let the sadness out.’
‘I am so sorry Master Owl and Miss Bunny’ he said, wiping the tears from his eyes, ‘ I don’t know what has come over me.’
‘That’s absolutely fine’ said Master Owl, ‘sometimes we are so busy we forget about our self and we get lost. So taking a Magical Mindful Moment helps us to find ourselves again, simply by noticing how we are feeling.’
‘Well I didn’t know I was feeling so sad’ said Mr Squirrel, ‘until I literally bumped into you and nearly knocked you both off this branch.’
‘I think we were meant to meet today’ said Miss Bunny. ‘Since I have been a student of Master Owl, I’ve noticed that things keep happening when you least expect it.’
‘Yes Miss Bunny, you are right’ said the wise old bird, ‘ in life we don’t always get what we want, but we always get what we need.’
‘Mr Squirrel, can you tell us why you feel so sad?’ asked Master Owl.
Mr Squirrel went quiet and thought carefully, then said ‘yes, I am sad because I don’t have any friends.’
‘That’s sad,’ said Miss Bunny. ‘Before I met Master Owl I thought I was all alone but he helped me to see that I was connected to all things. Why don’t you have any friends?’
‘It’s because I don’t share any of my food with the other animals, even when they are hungry and desperate,’ replied a very sorry looking squirrel.
‘And why do you collect and store so many more nuts that you actually need for yourself to live off?’ inquired Master Owl.
‘That is a really good question,’ said Mr Squirrel. ‘I have never stopped to think about it before, always been so busy collecting food.’
Master Owl then asked ‘did something happen to you when you were little squirrel growing up?’
Mr Squirrel looked confused, scratched his head until this strange look come over him. His eyes opened wide. He looked like he had realised something really important.
‘Yes’ he said ‘my family once ran out of food one winter. It was awful. We were so hungry. Is this why I collect nuts like some kind of nutter? Because I am scared?’
‘Yes’ said Master Owl wisely. ‘When we go through difficult times early in our life, it leaves a mark with us. Most of us don’t even realise we carry around these marks. We run on automatic.’
‘Wow that’s amazing’ said Miss Bunny. ‘I hadn’t realised what an effect our experiences have on us when we are growing up.’
‘Yes’ said Master Owl, ‘so taking time to have a mindful moment can allow magic to happen. It’s so helpful when we start to notice what we are feeling and understand why we are feeling like we do.’
‘Let’s all take a moment to take three nice deep breaths in and out,’ said Master Owl quietly.
All three animals closed their eyes. They took three lovely long breaths in and out.
‘So wise Master Owl’ said a much more relaxed Mr Squirrel, ‘how do I overcome my fear of running out of food in the winter?’
‘You will need to be brave and trust in life’ the owl replied.
‘Why?’ Said Mr Squirrel.
‘Because’ said Master Owl, ‘ I would like you to give away almost all your supply of nuts to the other animals in the wood.’
Mr Squirrel didn’t move. He looked quite shocked. All he could say was ‘why?’
Master Owl continued, ‘because the more you give away, the more you will have.’
Both Mr Squirrel and Miss Bunny looked confused about this latest wisdom from Master Owl.
Miss Bunny spoke first. ‘How can you have more of something if you give it away?!’
‘Trust me’ said Master Owl with a smile, ‘but more importantly trust in life. You will see what happens when you give and don’t expect anything back.’
After a few quiet moments, Mr Squirrel said he would follow Master Owl’s advice. He hoped he was right. He has been so miserable and unhappy. He was willing to try something different.
Off he went, back down the tree, waving to his new friends and thanking them for their help.
When Mr Squirrel returned home to his own tree, he went up to the place where he stored his nuts and couldn’t believe how much food he has been sitting on. He actually felt quite embarrassed.
Before meeting Master Owl and Miss Bunny he hasn’t noticed how much food he had been collecting. He hadn’t known why he was collecting so much food. But now he knew why, he trusted Master Owl. One by one he started to throw the nuts out of his tree. It was soon raining nuts!
He then made a sign up and stuck it on the tree down by the ground. It read:
‘Free nuts - help yourself’.
At first the other animals didn’t believe Mr Squirrel with his offer of free food. They thought about him hoarding all those nuts and that there must be a catch to his offer.
Mr Hedgehog decided to be brave and started talking with Mr Squirrel. Almost straightaway he realised there was something different about Mr Squirrel. He was calmer and nicer. A lot less silly, that’s for sure! Mr Hedgehog collected a handful of nuts, said thank you and headed home.
Mrs Mouse saw Mr Hedgehog walking away with handfuls of nuts and also went to say hello to the squirrel. She only had little hands, but she gratefully took one large round delicious acorn, said thank you and went back to her little house. She turned at looked at Mr Squirrel as she walked away. He had a lovely happy smile on his face.
After a few days, the enormous pile of nuts that had been sitting at the bottom of the tree was completely gone. Mr Squirrel took down the sign and went back up to his house high up in the tree.
Much time passed. The summer turned into autumn. The autumn turned into winter. It snowed again, covering the whole wood in beautiful white soft blanket of snow.
Mr Squirrel’s supply of food was getting smaller and smaller until one cold miserable day he completely run out of food.
But the word got out around the wood that Mr Squirrel had run out of food and something truly remarkable happened.
The animals who had collected nuts back in the spring started to bring some of this food back. They left it in the little pile at the bottom of Mr Squirrel’s tree. Mr Hedgehog brought round 5 acorns. Mrs Mouse brought round all she could carry in her little hands – one juicy acorn.
When Mr Squirrel started to see this happen he couldn’t believe his eyes. The other animals were bringing HIM food!
These animals were so grateful for the food that he shared with them earlier in the year. All they wanted to do was help him out in his time of need.
He was so grateful to the other animals and said THANK YOU every time they dropped off some acorns at the bottom of his tree.
With the support of his community, Mr Squirrel was able to survive the winter and he learned a lesson he would never, ever forget.
When he gave away all of those nuts he might of had less food but he gained so much more in so many ways that he could never have imagined.
He discovered kindness and friendship. He discovered a sense of community amongst the other animals that lived with him in the wood.
Mr Squirrel realised he was not alone anymore. He was an important part of the woodland community and he felt so different about his life. He was not afraid anymore.
And when the spring came around again, he helped teach the other animals how to collect up nuts. He taught them how to store them safely, so that everybody had enough food to last the winter.
Back at Master Owl’s home tree, Miss Bunny heard all about Mr Squirrel and what had happened to him over that previous winter.
‘Master Owl’ she said ‘now I understand what you meant when you said that the more you give away the more you have. It didn’t make any sense to me at the time but it makes sense now.’
Master Owl smiled and said ‘yes when we give, we find that life gives us so much back in so many unexpected ways. All we have to do is remember to be kind, to be generous and trust.’
‘And remember not fall off your branch while having a Magical Mindful Moment!’ joked Miss Bunny with a big smile.
Master Owl laughed. He loved Miss Bunny’s little jokes.
They both then sat silently together on their favourite branch, enjoying the feeling of the warm spring sun on their bodies.
The Grumpy Caterpillar
It was dawn. The sun rose slowly and light returned to the wood once again.
The birds were singing their morning songs. No one really knew why, but perhaps they were simply happy to be alive, so they sang.
Master Owl loved to sit quietly on his favourite branch as the sun was coming up.
With his eyes closed, he loved hearing all the birds starting to sing.
It was always the robins who started singing first. Next it was the blackbirds, followed by a woodpecker. It was like an invisible conductor was guiding this wonderful choir every morning.
Master Owl felt a wonderful energy was guiding everything around him, including him.
‘One movement of wonder’, he thought to himself.
Meanwhile at the bottom of the tree, Miss Bunny was also awake. She was busy planning a little surprise for Master Owl. She worried about him falling off his favourite branch, so she bought a trampoline!
She placed the trampoline on the ground, right below Master Owl’s branch. Sure enough, a few minutes later, Master Owl was so relaxed, listening to all the birds sing, he fell off the branch.
Down he fell, still with his eyes closed. Miss Bunny was so excited to see what happened next.
Master Owl lands in the middle of trampoline on his head and with a massive BOING, bounced all the way back up onto the branch. He landed back on his feet. He never even opened his eyes!
Miss Bunny could not believe her eyes.
Master Owl opened his eyes and smiled. He was playing a game with his friend. He knew she had placed a trampoline under him. He thought he would fall off, to see what happened.
Master Owl trusted in life. He always landed on his feet (or his head!), when he needed to.
‘Thank you Miss Bunny for my bounce’ said Master Owl, ‘Can I join you for breakfast?’
‘Yes of course you can’, she replied.
Master Owl always flew down to the base of the tree trunk to share breakfast with Miss Bunny. Rabbits are definitely happier being on the ground than up a tree.
Ever since the first day they met, Miss Bunny had decided to live at the bottom of Master Owl’s tree and be his student.
She wanted to learn from him, because he was the wisest and kindest animal she had ever met. He was also very funny. He didn’t give a hoot what others thought of him! But he noticed everything, with those enormous eyes of his.
Master Owl noticed that Miss Bunny liked her breakfast to be exactly the same every morning. It wasn’t just that she always had porridge with honey. The position of her fork, knife, bowl and cup were always the same.
Always in exactly the right place.
This morning Master Owl moved around all her things before she arrived for breakfast, to see if she noticed. She did and moved them all back into position!
‘I like things staying the same’ said Miss Bunny. ‘It makes me feel safe and happy.’
Master Owl sat quietly eating his breakfast. He wondered how he might be able to teach Miss Bunny about change. About trying new things. About seeing what happens when we are brave.
Then at that moment, a very large and grumpy caterpillar crawled across the breakfast table.
They heard her saying, ‘mess, mess, mess, always mess, blooming mess!’
‘Good morning Mrs Caterpillar’ said Master Owl kindly. ‘Have you met Miss Bunny before?’
Miss Bunny said ‘Hello, lovely to meet you’, in a cheery voice.
‘Hello you two’ replied Mrs Caterpillar gruffly, ‘sorry, but I haven’t got time to stop and talk. Too much to do. Too much to sort out. Too much to tidy. Mess, Mess, Mess.’
She grumbled her way past them and headed off along the ground away from Master Owl’s tree.
Master Owl looked at Miss Bunny.
Miss Bunny looked at Master Owl, with a knowing look in her eyes. They knew they could help.
They finished their breakfast and followed the grumpy caterpillar.
They didn’t have a problem keeping up with her, because she moved very slowly!
Miss Bunny watched her counted her legs.
She had 16 legs.
Miss Bunny thought it was funny how slowly she moved with 16 legs. If she had 16 legs she would be the fastest animal in the wood!
And all the time, Mrs Caterpillar was complaining. ‘Mess, Mess, Mess, always in a mess.’
After what seemed like a lifetime (probably only 20 minutes), they arrived at Mrs Caterpillar’s house, which was in a clump of dandelions.
She was so busy being grumpy, she hadn’t noticed the owl and rabbit following her. She was too busy talking to herself to care.
‘Mrs Caterpillar’, said Miss Bunny, ‘can I ask why you are always saying ‘mess, mess, mess’. What is in a mess?’
‘My house’ she replied, ‘it’s always a mess. The moment I tidy up, it gets messy again. Nothing stays the same. I want it to stay the same.’
Master Owl gave Miss Bunny a knowing look and smiled.
‘Yes, I am the same’ said Miss Bunny. ‘I like things to be the same too. It’s annoying when things get messy again.’
‘It drives me CRAZY!’ replied the caterpillar.
‘Let me help you tidy’, said Miss Bunny helpfully.
Miss Bunny bent down and tried to help tidy Mrs Caterpillar’s little house. This wasn’t easy. As you might have realised, even small rabbits are a lot bigger than caterpillars! Let’s just say, it didn’t go well.
Miss Bunny broke Mrs Caterpillar’s little table. She knocked over her chairs. She pulled down her curtains. She made a big mess of the little house.
‘Sorry’ she said, ‘ I don’t think I am helping very much.’
‘Helping?!’ replied a very cross looking caterpillar, ‘ now look at the mess – it’s more messy than ever - this will take me ages to tidy up.’
And with that, Mrs Caterpillar burst into tears.
Master Owl always knew what to do next.
He put his wing around Mrs Caterpillar and said ‘We are here for you, so don’t worry. Crying is good. Best to let those tears out. I guess you have been holding onto them for a long time.’
‘Yes’ said a very sorry looking Mrs Caterpillar, ‘I think you are right Master Owl.’ She blew her nose into a paper hanky and wiped her tears away.
‘Can I make a suggestion’ asked Master Owl, ‘Can the three of us all take a ‘Magical Mindful Moment’ together?’
‘ A what?’ said Mrs Caterpillar, looking confused.
‘A Magical Mindful Moment’, said Master Owl.
‘I will explain.’
‘We can get so busy sometimes, that we forget to notice this present moment, in the here and now. So taking a mindful moment is magical, as you will see.’
‘Lets all sit down together.’
Master Owl and Miss Bunny sat down with their legs crossed.
‘I don’t have to cross my legs, do I?’ Asked a worried looking Mrs Caterpillar, ‘it would take me a while, as I have 8 pairs of legs!’
Miss Bunny smiled and just about managed not to laugh out loud.
‘No simply get comfortable’, said Master Owl. ‘Lets close our eyes and start by taking three really good, long breaths in . . . and . . . out.’
All three animals breathed in . . . and . . . out and felt their shoulders relaxing and dropping.
‘Notice the air moving in and out of your nose.
Notice how your chest rises and falls.
Notice your body in contact with the ground.
Notice the sounds all around you,’ said Master Owl.
Mrs Caterpillar already felt more relaxed.
She had never stopped and noticed her breathing before. She was normally too stressed and too busy trying to keep things just the same.
‘Thank you Master Owl’ she said, ‘I am already starting to feel better. I have been so tired trying to keep everything tidy.’
‘I understand that’ said Master Owl, ‘life is all about change. Let’s look around us now at nature.
Do you see that really tall oak tree?’
Mrs Caterpillar nodded.
‘Do you think it was in a rush to grow that tall over the last hundred years?’
‘No’ said Mrs Caterpillar, ‘it’s growing little by little every year.’
‘That’s right’ said Master Owl, ‘and do you see the bud of that rose that is about to open?’
Mrs Caterpillar nodded again.
‘Is that flower in any hurry to open up?’
‘No’ said Mrs Caterpillar, ‘it’s opening when it’s ready to.’
‘Yes, in it’s own sweet time’ said the Owl, ‘do you like roses Mrs Caterpillar’
‘Oh yes’ she replied, ‘ I love the smell of roses and the colours of the petals.’
Master Owl continued, ‘Imagine if I had a plastic rose to give you. This fake rose never changed shape and didn’t smell.
Then imagine I have a real rose with a beautiful smell, which bloomed and then died.
Which rose would you want to hold?’
‘The real one’ said Mrs Caterpillar with a smile.
In that Magical Mindful Moment, Mrs Caterpillar became calm and peaceful. She decided to stop trying to keep her life the same. She decided to let go and trust in change.
A few minutes passed.
Mrs Caterpillar gave the hugest yawn. She said she needed to go and have a really long sleep. She had never felt so tired in her life.
‘Rest well’ said Master Owl, with a knowing look in his eye. ‘Come on Miss Bunny, we will leave Mrs Caterpillar to have a long sleep.’
Master Owl and Miss Bunny returned back to their Home tree.
Mrs Caterpillar, for the first and only time in her life, started to weave a cosy little sleeping bag. It was called a cocoon. When it was all finished, she settled down to sleep, with a happy smile on her face.
One week later, Master Owl said to Miss Bunny ‘Let’s go and visit Mrs Caterpillar and see how she is doing.’
Miss Bunny had no idea what was going to happen next. Master Owl decided not to tell her! It would be a lovely surprise.
After arriving at Mrs Caterpillar’s house, Miss Bunny is shocked to see this little cocoon jiggling and moving around.
‘Master Owl, quick, let’s help Mrs Caterpillar! She seems to be stuck in her little sleeping bag!’ said a worried Miss Bunny.
‘No Miss Bunny. Don’t worry. We must leave her to get out on her own. It’s really important that she struggles out on her own’ said Master Owl.
Miss Bunny looked very confused. She had no idea what was going on, but as always, she trusted Master Owl. He was very wise.
They both kept their eyes fixed on the cocoon.
After much wriggling, there came a magical moment that Miss Bunny would never forget for the rest of her life.
Out of a small hole in the cocoon appeared a flash of beautiful colours. First one wing appeared. Then a second wing came out and . . . out came Mrs Butterfly!
Miss Bunny was so surprised!!
‘What’s happened to Mrs Caterpillar?’ said Miss Bunny, ‘She’s changed into a beautiful butterfly! How on earth did that happen?’
Master Owl smiled and said ‘ She simply let go of thinking she was a caterpillar, and trusted in change.’
Miss Bunny stared at Mrs Butterfly, with her mouth wide open in wonder.
‘Sometimes’, said Master Owl, ‘we must be willing to let go of the life we planned, so that we can have the life that is waiting for us.’
After a few moments of drying her new wings in the sunshine, Mrs Butterfly looked at the owl and rabbit.
‘Hello’ she said, ‘Have we have met before? You look familiar.’
‘Hello Mrs Butterfly’ said Master Owl, ‘it’s lovely to meet you. I am Master Owl and this is Miss Bunny.’
‘Oh yes, I do remember you!’ said Mrs Butterfly, with a big smile on her face.
‘I had the strangest of dreams. I dreamt I was a BIG green caterpillar! How funny. Dreams can seem so real. Then you wake up and realise it was only a dream!’
Master Owl and Miss Bunny looked at each other and winked.
‘Thank you so much for helping me to let go and trust in change,’ said Mrs Butterfly, ‘now look at me!’
She flapped her new wings with such excitement. The sun had dried them out. She was ready to fly.
‘Goodbye you two’ she said, ‘Hope to see you again soon.’
And with that, Mrs Butterfly flew off into the sunshine to find some flowers. She was starving. It was time for her first breakfast.
Master Owl and Miss Bunny headed back to the Home tree for their breakfast.
Miss Bunny moved all her plates and cutlery around and laughed about it! She said she liked change and wanted new adventures to unfold, just like they did for Mrs Butterfly.
Master Owl smiled and nodded his wise head.