Bearhide and Crow

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Once again Johnson (Old Dry Frye; The Cow Who Wouldn't Come Down) serves up a witty, satisfying blend of Appalachian lore and his own storytelling savvy. Amos Dyer cannot resist a swap. So when wily Sam Hankins tells Amos that the smelly old bearhide Sam has bought from a gypsy woman has magical powers, they make a trade. Just when Amos begins to doubt Sam's word, the hide attracts a crow (" `Hmmm... A crow is good luck,' Amos mused"). Using the titular tools--along with some old-fashioned cunning and some luck--Amos turns the tables on Sam. Johnson bases Amos's scheme on a folk belief that "If you split a crow's tongue, you can then teach it human speech." And when "Quaw! Quaw!" is all the bird in question says, it inspires Amos to some Huck Finn-like logic ("Why, Sam, that crow talks up a storm. The problem is, you don't understand crow language, that's all"). Johnson sets the high jinks among steep hills and dirt roads that seem to shimmer, thanks to impressionistic daubs of color. His blue-jeaned characters wear their personalities on their faces; Amos has a smooth, unpretentious grin, while both Sam and his spotted hound dog sneer with greed. Alert readers will spot a crow and a "gypsy woman" lurking in key pictures, particularly at the snappy punch line: "Sam Hankins never did learn Crow." Ages 4-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Trickster tales are a perennial favorite of young readers. From Brer Rabbit to Anansi the Spider, the wily characters who out-think and manipulate others become heroes. In this Appalachian tale, Amos Dyer manages to convince his unpleasant neighbor that a smelly old bearhide and an ordinary crow are valuable treasures worth more than a bag of gold (which, of course, Amos ends up possessing). Peppered with colorful phrases like "a whole poke of pretties," "eyes nearly popped out of his skull," and "chased him into high timber," Paul Brett Johnson's story gives readers a taste of Appalachian lore. An additional treat is the painting technique used in the illustrations--the mix of colors used to fill in the comical pencil sketches creates an interesting paradox of fine art and cartooning. This is a fun read! 2000, Holiday House, Ages 6 to 10, $16.95. Reviewer: Carol Lynch—Children's Literature
School Library Journal
Gr 1-5-A good-natured spin on the traditional tale of a simpleton tricked into a foolish trade. Amos has a penchant for swapping, and this time he swaps one of his wife's blue-ribbon gourds for a fly-ridden bearhide. Now, "Amos should have figured anything he got from the likes of Sam Hankins wouldn't be worth chicken teeth." Right away he gets into trouble, scaring Nell as he appears in the bearhide. As he flees from his angry wife, Amos has a chance encounter during which he overhears two robbers discussing a sack of gold they have buried beneath greedy Sam Hankins's rain barrel. He then outwits his swapping partner with the help of a crow that he claims told him about the gold. Most of the story plays out between Amos and Sam as further fibs are traded, and Amos eventually manages to swap the smelly bearskin and the crow for the gold. "Amos went to the city and bought his wife a whole poke full of pretties.-Sam Hankins never did learn crow." Grumpy Sam, outdone by his own lies and his gullibility, is a funny sight, and the well-told tale begs sharing. The jacket painting of cheerful Amos marching down an Appalachian road draped in the mangy bearhide and clutching a crow tied to a string is a deft introduction to the lucky young man. Johnson comfortably threads familiar bits of story into a comic scenario amply extended in energetic cartoon sketches dappled in sunny acrylic. A great read-aloud or storytelling choice, sure to tickle children of many ages.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823414703
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/28/2000
  • Edition description: 1 ED
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.84 (w) x 10.82 (h) x 0.34 (d)

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