Little Black Crow

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Picture a sky
as big as all outdoors,
a fence disappearing over a hill,
a crow then appearing,
a boy looking up,
watching, wondering.
Not much more than a moment
but the meeting
lofts a rush of childhood questions—
27 in all—inspiring answers
as big as all outdoors.

Caldecott medalist Chris Raschka,
himself the boy perhaps,
has created a book in the sparest language
against the simplest setting,
to inspire in any young listener
the wonder of wondering.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Surrounded by blurry blue watercolor skies and wheat-brown daubs suggestive of autumn fields, a boy sits on a rail fence and talks to a small crow. At first, his rhyming questions seem simple: "Little black crow, where do you go?/ Where do you go in the cold white snow?" As the queries continue, readers may begin to consider the mysterious outdoor lives of animals and the things humans take for granted. The boy asks, "Is it enough to have feathers in all kinds of weathers?" as blue and brown slashes of rain whip around the crow. The crow, inked with an enormous beak and a comparatively tiny body, seems to grin but offers no reply. The boy also wonders about the crow's family ("Are you a boy like me?") and asks whether the crow might love "the little gray dove" perched next to him on a power line. Caldecott Medalist Raschka (The Hello Goodbye Window) leaves the questions unanswered and pictures the curious crow landing next to the boy at the close of this thought-provoking, nature-centered reflection. Ages 4–7. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
Crows may, to adults, be nuisance birds. But to one little boy, a crow is a worthy focus of contemplation. Sitting on a fence, our narrator watches the "little black crow" arrive and begins his inquiry with the simple question: "where do you go?" His thoughts branch out like the limbs on the sparsely-illustrated trees, and the boy asks where he goes "in the snow" and "in the stormy sky." Then, his thoughts turn fanciful. The boy asks who the crow meets (and imagines him visiting a bunny) and if he ever complains. He asks the bird about feathers and family, before turning to topics of sleep, worry, and fear. Finally, he asks "whom do you love?," speculating that it may be a little gray dove. The final illustration shows the bird settle on the fence next to our boy; dare we hope he gets some of the answers he seeks? Or is the real value simply in the asking? Celebrated Caldecott award winner Chris Raschka uses watercolor illustrations for setting and ink for primary characters on the visually-intriguing pages of this book. This story encourages readers to open their eyes to the world around them and ask questions. Given its slow pace, this story may be an especially good choice for bedtime sharing. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green
School Library Journal
Gr 3—Illustrations and text work as one as a boy spies a bird and begins to ask questions. "Little black crow,/where do you go?/Where do you go/in the cold white snow?/Where do you go?" The initially fact-based inquiries progress from solid to more ethereal. "Little black crow/in the white snow,/in the blue sky,/in the brown below,/do you ever wonder/about stars you see?/Might you ever wonder/about someone.../ me?" Impressionistic watercolor landscapes perfectly set the mood and style for these awe-filled inquiries of a curious child. Spare brushstrokes leave large areas of white, and, much like the unanswered inquiries, encourage readers to suggest answers and ask more questions; the minimalist paintings create an opportunity to imagine more. Enjoy this beautiful book with a group or share it quietly with a single child.—Carolyn Janssen, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH
Kirkus Reviews

Reminiscent of Christopher Myers's Black Cat (1999), but set in a rural rather than an urban setting, a lyrical text muses about the daily life of the titular little black crow. "Little black crow, / where do you go? // Where do you go / in the cold white snow?" opens the text, which then follows the crow through many different scenes. Framed by title-page and final-page illustrations of a boy sitting on a post-and-rail fence, the rest of the illustrations focus on the crow in different settings and interacting with various creatures; at one point the boy looks up at the crow from a distance and asks, "Little black crow / in that tall tree, / are you a boy like me?" Raschka demonstrates his Caldecott-winning mastery with controlled use of color, ample white space and expressive lines that suggest setting and deftly provide characterization with the slightest of brushstrokes. With palette, composition and mood evocative of the Japanese masters, the fluid watercolors establish a serene background for the inky crow. This quiet book that positions the child as a curious observer of the natural world is a little picture-book gem. (Picture book. 4-8)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689846014
  • Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books
  • Publication date: 8/31/2010
  • Pages: 30
  • Sales rank: 1,402,889
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.50 (w) x 11.04 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Raschka is the illustrator of The Hello, Goodbye Window, which was awarded the Caldecott Medal. He is also the illustrator of the Caldecott Honor Book Yo! Yes?; Charlie Parker Played Be Bop; Mysterious Thelonious; John Coltrane’s Giant Steps; and Can’t Sleep. He lives with his wife and son in New York City.

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