Score: 94/100 (9.4 out of 10)
WOW! “The Only Blue Crow” by Tuula Pere is not your typical children's book, and we love it for that! This beautiful, lovable, touching little children's book is full of amazing things. A deep, dark, somber, melancholy tone pervades this book from beginning to end, although glimpses of hope and light are also present. For a book starring a crow, you'd expect something a little darker.
No, there's no violence or severity in this book, but the themes of sorrow, loneliness, and sadness are prevalent. You could even argue that the crow suffers from some degree of depression, but don't let that scare you away as a parent. This book isn't intended to make you or your child depressed or sad, it actually seems to be made to help children to come to grips with their feelings and to realize that no matter how bad things seem, there's always hope and always light at the end of the tunnel. There's always someone out there who cares about them whether they realize it or not. There's always some special purpose for their life, and there's always a special place for them in the world. These are powerful, beautiful, meaningful lessons for kids to learn.
The book stars the titular Blue Crow, a friendly, lovable, well-meaning character who'll definitely steal your heart with his personality and his quest for friendship and companionship. The Blue Crow is the only one of his kind that he knows of. One day, when he sees a flock of black crows, he kindly goes to visit them as a show of friendship. Rather than being friendly back, the black crows are mean and spiteful to him, telling him that there are no such thing as blue crows and that he must be crazy. They essentially tell him that he can't be one of them because he's too different. Although this deeply hurts him, the Blue Crow doesn't immediately crumble under the weight of his sadness. Instead, the Blue Crow tries to cheer himself up by collecting and growing blue flowers and playing with the blue butterflies. Sadly, even these things don't go according to plan. The blue flowers whither, and the blue butterflies live only a short time due to their brief lifespans.
These things understandably sadden and depress the Blue Crow who seeks refuge in a cave away from everyone else. It's a very touching and heart-wrenching scene, and the Blue Crow's emotions are incredibly well put across through the beautiful art and words.
The Blue Crow is eventually approached by a friendly figure: a female owl who tells him that there's a whole world out there full of blue birds of every kind including blue crows like him!
The Blue Crow then goes on an adventures seeing all these different kinds of birds and the book ends in an open-ended manner as the Blue Crow is (we assume) about to meet another blue crow.
The writing is decent, but there are times when lines just don't read very well out loud. For example, lines like “At last the tired bird fell asleep” and “He wanted to find out right away” are stumbling blocks when you consider the small size of the text against the mostly-blue background. And it's also quite wordy, which is probably the main issue with this book. However, unlike some other wordy children's books, the character and the story are engaging enough to still compel the reader to trudge on.
As mentioned briefly, the art in this book is really special. It appears to be mostly watercolor. It is colorful enough to appeal to kids but not overwhelming to the senses.
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