Perfect Picture Book Friday looks at Crow Call by Lois Lowry.
Near me, where I write, stand two tall bookshelves–an anniversary gift from my understanding husband. I dedicated shelves to picture books, middle-grade novels, nonfiction books for children, and books on the many aspects of writing books. On my picture book shelf, one book sits with its cover facing me. That book is Crow Call by Lois Lowry.
A couple of years ago, my daughter asked me to bring her to the book fair at her school. Since we had too many bills to pay off that month, I told her I could only afford to buy one or two books for her 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. Over the years, we filled those shelves to brimming.
In the room set up for the fair, I said to my daughter, “Go ahead and look around. I’ll be over here, browsing the picture books.”
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 blonde braids on the cover. She looked like me when I was her age. The girl was standing on a golden hillside, staring up with wonder at a sky filled with crows. The illustration, made with the loving hand of illustrator, Bagram Ibatoulline, perfectly captured the landscape of my childhood. I read the opening lines, continued to the last page of this feel-good story, and swallowed my tears.
Right about the time when I closed the book and held it in a hug that I heard a familiar voice…
“I thought you weren’t going to buy any books for yourself,” my daughter said.
“I love this story so much,” I managed to say. And that’s all I said as I clutched the book harder.
Then, she noted the tears in my eyes and hugged me. “I think you need to buy this one.”
*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)
To listen to Lois Lowry speak about Crow Call, visit YouTube.
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.
Until next Friday.