Otis The Optimistic Owlet and The Negative Narwhal

Welcome to Story Quest, a weekly podcast where we bring your stories to life!

In this episode we bring Tegan’s story – Otis The Optimistic Owlet and The Negative Narwhal – to life.

If you have a story idea, you could be like Tegan and have it turned into a Story Quest. All you have to do is send us your story idea here. We know you have the best imaginations and together we can create the most brilliant stories!

That’s just what Tegan did. You can watch the story she suggested come to life below, plus she tells us all about the inspiration behind the story at the end.

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Read along to Otis The Optimistic Owlet and The Negative Narwhal!

You can read along to the story while you listen. Just follow the text below. Don’t worry if you find a word tricky – you can pause the video whenever to give yourself more time.

Otis the Optimistic Owlet and the Negative Narwhal

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Do you know what those words mean?  Well, an optimist is someone who sees the good in any situation – sometimes people say they see a glass as being “half full”.  A pessimist is, well, pretty much the opposite.  All they can see is the bad in things, they imagine the worst and if they were given the same glass would complain that it’s half empty.  You get the idea.

You might not realise it but animals can be optimists or pessimists too.  Dogs for example, unless they have been badly treated are almost always optimists.  In fact even dogs who have had a very hard life can be optimists.  Small animals like mice are usually pessimistic because basically every other animal wants to eat them and that would ruin pretty much anyone’s mood.

And cats – well, cats are just cats.  They do what they want and if there’s a glass with water in it all they’ll be thinking is can I fit my head in it to take a slurp or how much can I push it with my paw before it falls off the table?

In our story we have one optimistic animal – Otis, and one very very pessimistic animal – Nigel.  Otis was an owlet – a small fluffy bundle of feathers with enormous eyes and a tiny beak.  Nigel was a narwhal. A narwhal lives in the sea and has a pointy bit on its head, a bit like a unicorn.  If a unicorn was crossed with a dolphin.  Weird right?

Otis lived in the tall trees in the woods by the edge of a sand dune by the coast.  He liked to fly out to the rocks in the deep water and watch the shoals of fishes – keen to make friends.  He liked making friends.  One day he was going goggled eyes at some golden guppies when he spotted something he’d never seen before – it was a narwhal – Nigel in fact.  He perched on a rock and churped in delight to see Nigel breaking the surf to dive down again.

“A unicorn fish!” he shrieked in delight! “How AMAZING!  Let’s be friends!”

“I’m not a unicorn.  Or a fish come to that” said Nigel. “No one seems to know what I am. So no one usually wants to be my friend.  I mean what’s the point of me?  When you think of unicorns you think of glossy ponies with rainbow manes… I’m a disappointment on that score.  And the fish laugh at me and call me STICK HEAD.”

Otis felt very sorry for Nigel.  “That’s a pity” he churped. “People tend to like owlets.  I spose I’m lucky not to have had anyone call me names like stick head.  That’s really mean isn’t it?”

“Everyone likes baby owls” observed Nigel.  “It’s like kittens and puppies – more fluff and less enormous spikes sticking out of your head”

“It’s true. I think it’s the fluffiness.  I’m like a little cuddly ball of feathers.  The big eyes help too” he added, blinking. Then he remembered something excitedly.  “Ohhh!   Ohhh!  And I can do this amazing thing with my head! Look!” And Otis swivelled his head backwards – it was a trick he’d just learned to do and was very pleased with himself.  Then he swivelled it back.  Then he swivelled it again.  And then back.  It made him feel quite pleasantly dizzy so when he stopped, he staggered a bit on his spindly legs and nearly fell off the rock.

“Well done” said Nigel.  But he said it in a glum sarcastic way so Otis didn’t feel like Nigel was impressed at all.  There didn’t seem to be anything more to say so bowing, Otis flapped away back to his nest in the tall tree.  He asked his mum what he could do to help to cheer Nigel up.  She said that sometimes just because people are sad or grumpy doesn’t mean they don’t want company – sometimes they’ve just had a bad time or got in a rut.  Otis should keep trying – after all, everyone needs a friend.

“I spose I’m just lucky. My life is pretty easy compared to Nigel – I can hunt for prey all night, sleep all day and, well EVERYONE loves baby owls right?”

His mum thought that luck didn’t actually have much to do with it.  After all there were rich people who were miserable right?

Otis was right in a way.  Everyone DID love baby owls but unfortunately for him, some things loved baby owls for quite different reasons.  They loved a delicious baby owl for DINNER.

Earlier that day an enormous eagle had swooped over the woods, by the dunes at the coast, mooching around to see if there was anything worth chomping. As well as the usual bunnies and mice, he’d been interested to see something small and fluffy perched on a rock – peering at the water.  Now small and fluffy things, in his experience were usually DELICIOUS and so he was just preparing a swoop when the small fluffy thing flapped away to become hidden in the tall trees.  Never mind.  There was always tomorrow.  Eagles as you can see fall on the optimistic side of the fence.  If they were pessimistic they’d just go “oh there’s no point hunting, I’m so rubbish, I’ll never catch anything, everything is awful moan moan moan” and so on but fortunately for this story there’s only one negative nelly – or negative Nigel should I say.

So Otis had no idea that his easy perfect life was about to get – well a little less perfect.

The next day he’d flapped down to the rock once again, to wait for Nigel, who splashed past – still looking gloomy.

“I don’t know why you’re bothering with me, he sighed”

“We’re friends right?  Anyway – what happened to all the other narwhals?  I thought you guys hung out in packs”

Nigel sort of shrugged, as much as a dolphin with a horn can shrug.  You’ll have to use your imagination to picture that.  “I used to have a gang, but I think they got tired of me being so grumpy all the time that they all went off and left me.  Everyone ends up getting tired of me in the end.”  He huffed.

“Well I’m not tired of you at all!” churped Otis.  “I think you’re an amazing swimmer – and you can dive…. And…”

“LOOK OUT” shouted Nigel all of a sudden – from the clear waters he could see something in the sky – it had been a speck – it grew in size and he could see the terrible beak and claws…


Otis looked up in terror – the eagle was close enough to be opening his talons ready to grab a juicy owlet for tea.  He tried to flap away but his tiny wings were no match for the enormous eagle. He felt as if all hope was lost and then…


There was a whoosh of water and Nigel leapt from the waves, his horn jabbing at the eagle.  The eagle was taken by surprise.  The last thing he’d expected to see was a unicorn fish and he didn’t like being jabbed at.  


Again and again Nigel leapt and dived above the surf to attack the eagle – getting a good few pokes in.  Finally the eagle decided he didn’t fancy his chances and soared away.

Otis was soaking wet, shivering and very very scared, but he was also very very glad to have been saved by Nigel.

“You saved my life! You’re a true friend!”

Nigel said he hadn’t had time to think about it but he couldn’t let Otis become dinner.  He’d found himself missing the little owl when he’d flapped away the previous day.

“You’re a HERO!” trilled Otis – “and what’s more I shall make sure everyone knows what you did!”

Nigel did something he’d not done in ages.  He actually SMILED.  And felt… what WAS that feeling – HAPPY?  Maybe he wasn’t so useless – after all he’d saved his friend’s life – and even better – guess what? He had a FRIEND!  All of a sudden life didn’t seem quite so bad.

Otis was as good as his word.  He flew from rock to rock, to every tree and spread the news that courageous Nigel had saved his life from a vicious eagle attack.

Nigel found himself the talk of the tides – the shoals of fishes swished curiously around him now, eager to hear the tale, and his old pack of Narwhals said they’d be delighted if he joined the pack once more.  So the story ends with Nigel living pretty much happily ever after.

Although there’s just one more thing…. Something I didn’t tell you is that a group of narwhals have a special name.  Like you have a flock of birds, or a herd of sheep the word for a group of narwhals is – guess what?  A blessing.  A blessing of narwhals.  100% fact.

Otis found this fact out from a very wise owl in the woods and thought it was quite appropriate.  It was a blessing that he’d met Nigel – however negative he had been and it was also a blessing that Nigel found happiness again in the pack.  

Although he was having a whale of a time with the narwhals, (or should that be a narwhal of a time??) Nigel would return now and then to chat to Otis on the rock – Otis being much more of an owl than an owlet these days – after all, they were friends, right?  And everyone needs a friend!

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