Crow Call

Crow Call

4.0 9
by Lois Lowry, Bagram Ibatoulline

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Two-time Newbery medalist Lois Lowry has crafted a beautiful picture book about the power of longing and the importance of reconnection between a girl and her father in post-WWII America.

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

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Two-time Newbery medalist Lois Lowry has crafted a beautiful picture book about the power of longing and the importance of reconnection between a girl and her father in post-WWII America.

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A parent returning as a stranger after WWII could be a difficult situation, but in Newbery Medalist Lowry’s first picture book, drawn from her childhood, the reunion brings warmth and trust. Out on a fall hunting trip with her father, Lizzie is quiet with apprehension (“Daddy. Daddy. Saying it feels new”). Yet he respects her wishes, even when they’re quirky. When she longs for a plaid hunting shirt many sizes too big, he endorses her choice: “You know, Lizzie... You will never ever outgrow this shirt.” He orders three pieces of cherry pie (her favorite food) for breakfast. She’s worried about the idea of hunting; he gives her the crow call—“I’m pretty sure you can handle it”—and the crows gather like magic. To her relief, her father never fires his gun. Ibatoulline (The Scarecrow’s Dance) fittingly dedicates his artwork to Andrew Wyeth. The Pennsylvania countryside, in shades of gold and fawn, undulates behind Lizzie and her father, the quiet colors echoing the intimacy they share. It’s a loving representation of a relationship between parent and child, and an elegy to a less ironic era, while fully relevant for today’s military families. Ages 9–12. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
The story opens with a young girl heading out on a hunting trip with a father she has not seen for some time. He has been off fighting a war and now he is home. Previously when in town, Lizzie had spied a hunting shirt in a store window. It was a beautiful rainbow plaid, but way to big for such a young girl. No matter, her father made the purchase noting that she would never outgrow the shirt. They stop at a diner and have cherry pie for breakfast—Lizzie's favorite thing to eat. They discuss the war and his fears—as well as her fears, in particular going hunting. They discuss the cycle of life and how crows eat the crops to survive. In spite of that Lizzie just doesn't have it in her heart to hunt them. She uses her crow call and they flock to her and surround her. Lizzie says "They think I'm their friend!" Her father refrains from shooting the crows and leaves that for another day or another hunter. Today, he and his daughter walk hand—in-hand and head back home. The illustration by Ibatoulline are evocative of a frosty autumn morning—soft browns with a sky that is just beginning to light up. The trees bare of leaves and mist rising from the hills add a sense of mystery and fear as the two wait to see if the crows will respond to Lizzie's call. They are a perfect match for the story. Lowry's story will resonate today as it did back in 1945 when she went through the experience of reacquainting herself with a father who had recently returned from World War II. Today's children are separated not only from fathers but mothers who head off to places like Afghanistan and Iraq, risking their lives and then having to come home and try to re-establish relationships withfamily and life in general. As Lois Lowry says on the closing page "And so this story is not really just my story, but everyone's." Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4—Based on the reminiscence of a day in 1945, Lowry's nostalgic story has appeal that will resonate with 21st-century children. Lizzie's father has just returned from serving in World War II and she's a bit shy even though she's excited about spending the day with him. They are going to hunt crows that are eating the farmers' crops. The eight-year-old is warmly dressed in a man's plaid wool shirt that she had admired in a store window and her father bought for her even though it comes down to her knees. After an early diner breakfast of her favorite cherry pie, they head toward the woods. Being in charge of the crow call, a whistle intended to lure prey to the hunter, Lizzie is impressed with the number of birds she entices, yet feels uncomfortable because they are about to be killed. However, her father never raises his rifle; he simply enjoys watching his enthralled daughter and the multitude of birds that have heeded her call. Remarkable, atmospheric illustrations reveal the subdued, cool autumn colors of crunchy dried grass, softly hued sky, and dark leafless trees. The memory of a treasured day spent with a special person will resonate with readers everywhere.—Maryann H. Owen, Racine Public Library, WI
Kirkus Reviews
It's a cold November morning, and Liz's father has just returned from the war. Shyly she sits "next to the stranger who is [her] father" practicing his name under her breath, "Daddy. Daddy." Together they drive to the Pennsylvania farmlands to hunt for the crows that destroy the crops, learning each other's idiosyncrasies along the way; in journeying to save the harvest, they begin to cultivate their relationship anew. Beautifully written, the piece reads much like a traditional short story. Lowry's narrative, dense with sensory details, is based on her own life's events. Fittingly, Ibatoulline's muted, earth-toned palette is reminiscent of vintage, faded photographs. At times, the characters in the photorealistic illustrations are floating in the uncanny valley, separated from their environment. But in other instances, the details of his renderings gracefully capture a moment in time that was lost. Relevant for families whose parents are returning from war, the text is also ripe for classroom discussion and for advanced readers. (Picture book. 7-10)
Children's Literature - Krisan Murphy
One cool autumn morning Liz and her dad venture out on a hunting trip to reconnect after a long separation due to war. Their first stop is for a flannel hunting shirt for Liz which swallows her in its folds and hides her long braids. There is a subtle tension in their relationship and hesitation in what Liz observes from her dad's expectations and reactions. He surprises her with a cherry pie treat, seeking her out, and in sharing his own love of hunting. The vivid imagery of the rustling fall is portrayed in crisp dialect and rich illustrations. When it is time to call the crows, Liz is entrusted with the task by her dad. There are poignant questions about the feelings of crows, of choices to shoot the gun or not, and even contemplation whether Liz can trust her father. The resulting atmosphere of this sixteen minute audio/video narrative with still life pictures is a compassionate beginning to a lost and restored parent-child relationship. The DVD jacket includes a helpful teacher guide with before-viewing and after-viewing activities. Reviewer: Krisan Murphy

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.20(w) x 10.26(h) x 0.38(d)
AD750L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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Crow Call 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
kidlitfan More than 1 year ago
Simply stunning! Lois Lowry and Bagram Ibatoulline have created a book which works on so many levels - personal, artistic, emotional. Ms. Lowry's tale is the timeless story of parents and children struggling to find common ground, to express love in the simple act of being together and caring about each other. Indeed, this true story happened to Lois during her own childhood, and has obviously stayed with her for more than 60 years. Ibatoulline's artwork will leave you breathless: Extraordinarily skillful rendering of expression, haunting recreation of forest and field. A work of genius in every respect.
Mary8601 More than 1 year ago
It took me awhile to find this because I never expected Lois Lowry to write a picture book! But be prepared for the same brilliance she presents in The Giver and Number the Stars in this gorgeous treasure. The illustrations are stunning and Ibatoulline captures every emotion and thought perfectly in the faces of the characters. For every child who has ever had to become reacquainted with their parents this is book is priceless. For every child who has ever struggled in a relationship with their parents (and who has not), it is equally priceless.
grammydiane More than 1 year ago
Lovely and evocative of memories and life.
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