Martha

( 1 )

Overview

This is Gennady Spirin's own dear story about the day his son Ilya found a crow with a broken wing, and brought it home. The veterinarian told the boy that it would never fly again. "Put it to sleep!" he urged the parents. But the wild crow-Martha, they called her-was full of surprises. She most certainly made their home, her home, and one day she did fly! Would there be one more surprise? When she flew away that fall, would she return again?
With Gennady Spirin's beautiful and ...

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Overview

This is Gennady Spirin's own dear story about the day his son Ilya found a crow with a broken wing, and brought it home. The veterinarian told the boy that it would never fly again. "Put it to sleep!" he urged the parents. But the wild crow-Martha, they called her-was full of surprises. She most certainly made their home, her home, and one day she did fly! Would there be one more surprise? When she flew away that fall, would she return again?
With Gennady Spirin's beautiful and delicate watercolor illustrations and the sweet memory of Martha's year as his guide, Martha takes flight once again.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Spirin (The Tale of the Firebird) fans will welcome his latest book, which reveals something of his own life. One winter evening, Spirin's wife and five-year-old son, Ilya, return to their Moscow apartment with an injured crow. An earth-toned watercolor shows the family in the veterinarian's waiting room along with a motley assortment of bundled-up Muscovites and their animals. "The bird will never fly again," says the veterinarian, a grinning man holding a big needle. "Put it to sleep." "Mama, Papa. I am not going to let him!" says Ilya. "This is my crow!" In the early pages, Spirin's portraits appear silhouetted against snow-white pages. Once Martha the crow joins the family, joyful still life pictures depict Ilya's toys scattered on the floor, the artist's own sketches pinned to the wall, and views of the wintry street. Martha convalesces in Spirin's studio, and when she learns to fly again-and takes to landing on the artist's head-the whole family celebrates. In the spring, she learns to perch on the window ledge, then finally flies away. Every detail of Spirin's album reflects his devotion to the small world around him: his son in his favorite soccer jersey, posing with Martha on his head; his wife cradling the bird in her arms; and Martha herself, using her beak to tear off her bandages with a balletic flourish. In setting his memories down, and then again in publishing them, Spirin has performed a double act of love. Ages 4-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
What a gentle, loving story—in both word and art. A true story from the days when his young family lived in Moscow, Gennady Spirin tells how his wife, Raya, and small son, Ilya, found an injured crow in a park. Raya bandaged the crow until "it looked like a funny white doll with a black crow head and tail and two elegant feet." When a doctor said the bird must be put to sleep, the boy and his mother resisted, nursing Martha back to health until she flew around Spirin's studio and eventually, of course, out the window and away. But not forever away, because wasn't that Martha who returned to build a nest in the tree outside that window? "I cannot say yes, I cannot say no, but Ilya firmly believed the bird he saw was Martha." Spirin captures the boy's concern and faith and joy, the mother's caring, and his own observant interest with a richness that will move the reader beyond the familiarity of the tale itself. Spirin's paintings are softly colored and carefully detailed, sometimes filling a page with weather or expressive faces, sometimes leaving just a jubilant boy surrounded by white space—and a crow. For youngsters this is an excellent read aloud as well as a superb example of turning a family event into a story others can enjoy and appreciate. 2005, Philomel, Ages 4 to 8.
—Karen Leggett
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-Spirin tells the story of his wife and young son bringing home a crow with a broken wing. The full-page watercolor paintings of the artist's studio and his Moscow neighbors and cityscape are modern but have an old-fashioned feel that suggests a tale of long ago and far away. Martha is nurtured by her human family and given free reign in their home. Readers will cheer their decision to care for her when the veterinarian advises them to put her to sleep. "This bird will never fly again." Poor bedraggled Martha, wrapped in a bandage tied round with string and laid in a basket, soon becomes a saucy companion on the artist's table and even atop his head. Her gray wings and torso set her apart from the more familiar all-black American crows, and her friendly relationship with humans is intriguing. Many pages include an appealing framing device with a small image of Martha in varied poses. The recovered bird does eventually fly, and is set free. Adept at attractive page design and at shaping his story, Spirin weaves a satisfying conclusion to a tale that will be enjoyed equally as a read-aloud and for independent reading.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Spirin's illustrations always gladden the heart, and here his meticulous and sumptuous watercolors highlight a familiar family tale. It tells, with simplicity and affection, of the time when his then five-year-old son Ilya brought home an injured crow from a snowy park in Moscow. Although the veterinarian recommends destroying the bird, Ilya and his mother Raya instead take it back home, nurse it and feed it. Ilya names the crow Martha, and it lives in a basket by his father's drawing table. Martha learns to fly again (Spirin's head becomes a favorite launching perch), and one day leaves via an open window, but at the end of the summer a mother crow and her babies nest outside of that window-Ilya believes it is Martha returned. The pictures are so full of color and life that children will feel they can reach out to stroke Martha's wing, or the objects on the drawing table, or Raya's beautiful floral wool shawl. A little slice of life-about life. (Picture book. 3-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399239809
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/21/2005
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 658,754
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.20 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 20, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    true story

    beautiful drawings and a story about helping a bird .my grandchildren were capivated

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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