Perfect Picture Book Fridays Looks at Crow Call by Lois Lowry.
Near me, where I write, stand two tall bookshelves–an anniversary gift from my understanding husband who may have grown tired of my many stacks of books. I have dedicated shelves for picture books, middle-grade novels, nonfiction books for children, and books on the many aspects of writing books. On my picture book shelf, where my books are lined up neatly, one book, in particular, sits with its welcoming cover facing me. That book is Crow Call by Lois Lowry.
I recall the day my daughter asked me to bring her to the book fair at her elementary school. “OK,” I said, “but since we have too many bills to pay off this month, I can only afford to buy one or two books for you and none for me.”
Who was I fooling…? My addiction to books began as a child when my father covered one wall of our living room, end to end and floor to ceiling, with bookshelves he handmade. Then, over the years we filled those shelves to brimming.
We walked into the school library where the books were set up for the fair. “Go ahead and look around,” I told my daughter. “I’m going to browse the picture books while I wait for you.” My eyes roamed over the titles and then…a book caught my eye. Crow Call by Lois Lowry. I immediately identified with the young girl with her blond braids on the front cover. She looked like me at that age. The girl was standing on a golden hillside beside an enormous bare tree, staring up with wonder at a sky filled with crows. The illustration made with the skilled and loving hand of illustrator, Bagram Ibatoulline perfectly captured the landscape of my childhood. I opened the book and, being captivated by both the opening lines and illustrations, continued to the last page where I swallowed my tears. Not because the story is sad–it ends quite happily, but because I felt an overwhelming connection to the relationship between the father and daughter in the story.
“I thought you weren’t going to buy any books for yourself,” my daughter said. Then she noted the tears in my eyes. “What’s wrong?” She hugged me.
“I love this book so much,” I managed to say. And that’s all I said as I clutched it to my heart.
*Written by- Lois Lowry – Drawn from her own personal experience as a child.
*Illustrated by- Bagram Ibatoulline
*Published by- Scholastic Press, 2009
*Suitable for – 4 and up
*Topics/Theme – The bond of parent and child, specifically father and daughter.
*Opening – It’s morning, early, barely light, cold for November. At home, in the bed next to mine, Jessica, my older sister, still sleeps. But my bed is empty.
Words from the author “The details of Crow Call are true. They happened in 1945 to me and my father. But parents and children groping toward understanding each other — that happens to everyone. And so this story is not really just my story, but everyone’s.” —Lois Lowry
Synopsis from Amazon
This is the story of young Liz, her father, and their strained relationship. Dad has been away at WWII for longer than she can remember, and they begin their journey of reconnection through a hunting shirt, cherry pie, tender conversation, and the crow call. This allegorical story shows how, like the birds gathering above, the relationship between the girl and her father is graced with the chance to fly.
Why do I like this book? So many picture books these days have sparse text and are 500 words or less–often less. But this book, with it longer text, tells a rich and satisfying story of a relationship between a father and daughter separated by a war. It captures the shyness of a little girl who sees her father as a stranger. Their journey into the day becomes an important step in finding their way back–together. Through the father’s generosity, sensitivity, and gentleness, a bond is formed which leads to a perfectly satisfying ending. Now, team up the beautiful writing of Lois Lowry with the soft, realistic illustrations of Bagram Ibatoulline, and you have a Newberry Medal winner in your hands.
Lois Lowry’s website (author)
Classroom author study of Lois Lowry
Bagram Ibatoulline’s website (illustrator)
A recipe for cherry pie from Epicurious.
To listen to Lois Lowry speak about Crow Call, visit YouTube.
To find other perfect picture books please visit Susanna Hills blog.
A writer’s prompt: Write about a special time you shared with your mom or dad when you were a child–a time that strengthened your parent-child bond.