Dec 17, 2019

More Holiday Gift Suggestions: HELLO, CROW and MORE

A fantastic fiction picture book reached me just as I began gathering and reading nonfiction titles for this year's Cybils Awards. I've been shifting this lovely book to the top of a "future posts" pile since it released in September, and It has been calling to me ever since. I can't ignore it for even a moment longer, and I'm sharing it here just in time to suggest as a wonderful option for holiday gifting.
Greystone Kids, 2019
David Suzuki Institute
HELLO, CROW is written  by Candace Savage and illustrated by Chelsea O'Byrne. Franny frustrates her father by leaving things around the house, overlooking simple tasks, and ignoring nearly anything except NATURE. As the endpapers and title page reveal, Franny only has eyes for the wonders of the great outdoors and it's creatures.
Franny sees, smells, explores and hears the call of the wild, longing to connect with it.
This book was inspired by the true story of such a girl. In this version, Franny steps into the great outdoors daily. Many edible lunch bits surround her during one of her outdoor excursions. Crumbs catch the attentive eye of a crow. I love the way the crow eyes Franny cautiously, aware of human presence, and behaves naturally. 
In time, Franny is more intentional in sharing her lunch. Crow appears often, hopping in, then flying in to share lunch and and exchange conversational CAWs. 
Franny is convinced she has made a friend, but her father dismisses it as featherbrained dreaming. 
After many days sharing lunches, Crow delivers a special gift, left where Franny can't miss it. She treasures Crow's gifts of a button, then a bead. She insists to her father that they are proof of their loving friendship. 
When he denies it yet again as dreaming, Franny drags him along to meet Crow. 
Together they sit.
They wait.
They scour the landscape and sky.
No crow.
Just as Father is warming up for an "I told you so" speech, Crow swoops in and lands on Franny's head. 
I love the simple, direct language and charming story, sprinkled with clever word play that parallels familiar home scenes sprinkled with Franny's messy trails. These validate Father's frustrated annoyance and labeling. 
I spent several years working in wildlife rescue, some of which included memorable crows. With that experience, I'd have never doubted Franny's story, but the illustrations make it understandable that he did. 

Even so, this is an important story for parents and children to share, sparking discussions about how important it is to trust a child when they share their stories of daily life. 
The situation in this story reminds me of the kerfuffle about a Sesame Street character several years ago.
(If you missed it, check out the full story HERE). 
The running gag about SNUFFLEUPAGUS was that only the young (kids and characters) ever saw the big goofy guy, because he always left before adults arrived. That premise was dropped/corrected when it became clear that children NEED to know that they will be believed by trusted adults when they report what they see and hear. Helping children learn to explore imagination while being trusted with the truth is a crucial developmental landmark.

HMH Books for Young Readers, 2019
As for Crow's gift-giving of tiny found bits, that  is a well-documented pattern within many bird species, most especially crows, ravens, and magpies. Another book I highly recommend, especially at this season of excess consumption, features a rather greedy magpie who learns the hard way that  sometimes less is more. 
MORE, written by I. C. Springman and illustrated by Brian Lies, gets my full-throated praise in a review in a prior post, HERE. Originally published in 2012 and 2014, it was reissued in fall, 2019. 

So I hope you'll add these two titles to your shopping list, or shop for them with your holiday gift cards, or keep them in ind for future occasions.  Remember, too, that lifetime memories are formed by sharing library trips and treasures with kids. 
Happy reading!


  1. Thanks, Sandy. Can't wait to read them both!

  2. Happy to see you are interested. Would love to know what you think, when you get to it!
    Happy holidays!


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