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Crows: An Old Rhyme

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
According to a note in the back of the book, these oracular rhymes based on counting crows came from the artist's grandfather, who only recalled seven of the versesperhaps one for each day of the week. Holder has charmingly expanded the rhyme to 12 in this ornate, sophisticated picture book. ``One is for bad news/ Two is for mirth/ Three is a wedding/ Four is a birth . . . '' Each of the rhyme's omens is depicted in a full-page tableau of an elegant mink and her suitor and eventual husband, a swashbuckling weasel. Their romancehe is a wanderer, but she remains true to himand their fortunes and misfortunes are mirrored by those of a hare shown in smaller, facing illustrations, through treasure-finding, robbery, imprisonment, freedom and finally, optimism that their future is secure. Holder's paintings are richly hued and lavishly detailed, with intricate decorative borderssymbols are artfully constructed into the corners and embroidered throughout the paintingsreminiscent of a medieval illuminated manuscript. She has integrated period costumes and romantic settings with a wealth of symbols from both Christian and folk traditions. One of the marvels of the pictures is the background of iridescent pink, plum and peach colors that become gray or blue as the mood of the prophesies turns somber, and then move back to blush tones as the chance for happiness increases. For some readers, the inclusion of a table of symbols closes off the pictures from interpretation, because the icons are isolated from much broader contexts by the restrictive definitions here. But opening this ripe melon-colored book is like peering through a door at an opulent play. The colors bewitch, the textures beguile, and the entire event romances the audience. All ages. (October)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3 Using an old counting rhyme as inspiration, Holder has fashioned a book of richness, beauty, and charm. The text, ``One is for bad news, Two is for mirth,'' refers to the crows of the title. It appears on the left-hand pages with the appropriate number of birds inside a decorated frame. Below, two hares mime a light-hearted romance with a supporting cast of woodland ani mals. On the right, in full - page ornately framed spreads, Millie the Mink and Willie the Weasel enact the main melo drama. Costumed in the sumptuous dress of a bygone era, these unlikely animals meet and marry, living a life of splendor. Then, misfortune strikes. A chase, sudden death, and imprisonment follow, but the faithful mink and swash buckling weasel are reunited at the end. The rhyme connects only loosely with the pictured story, but readers should be able to speculate about what really happens. Working in a style reminis cent of the old masters, Holder has filled her illustrations with symbols culled from literature and folklore. For instance, ``Six is a thief'' shows a full moon to indicate turmoil; the clocks in the corners hint that time is the biggest thief of all. Several pages at the end provide information on the habits of crows, weasels, and minks; acknowl edge the artist's varied sources; and give a key to the symbols. A special volume which would work best in a one-on-one setting where child and adult could explore together its many- layered meanings. Ellen D. Warwick, Robbins Junior Lib . , Arlington, Mass.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374416102
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 2/1/1990
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 7 years
  • Product dimensions: 8.91 (w) x 11.77 (h) x 0.18 (d)

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