Saturday, 8 November 2014

Little Black Crow: An Adorable Lesson In Empathy

A Review By: Amelia
I have major empathy output for pretty much everyone on Earth. Stray cats on the street? Just thinking about how cold they must get in the winter is enough to bring tears to my eyes. A beautiful tree gets cut down for no reason? I can almost feel the chainsaw myself. A child gets scolded for nothing more than asking a simple question? I nearly foam at the mouth for their squashed curiosity. Honestly, I’m pretty sure that I’m 100% pure empathy. Where did my empathy come from? Where else but from reading! Books are an absolutely amazing way to grow your children’s empathy for those around them but I’ve found that a lot of books nowadays are more concerned with pushing very literal lessons upon children, instead of building a foundation for which their emotions can grow and develop. Little Black Crow was a very pleasant surprise when I stumbled upon it at my local library. It’s a book all about empathy: a real jackpot for me!

Now, what’s Little Black Crow all about? Well, it’s a simple story with simple language and simple pictures about a little boy wondering about a crow he sees flying about. He has general questions about the crow’s life and–you guessed it–empathy for the little creature!

The author and artist of the book is Chris Raschka, an American illustrator and writer. He was the U.S. nominee for the biennial, international Hans Christian Andersen Medal in 2012 and Yo! Yes? was a Caldecott Honor Book in 1994. Raschka’s most famous book is his Hello, Goodbye Window, winner of the 2006 Caldecott Medal, and in 2012 he won the Caldecott Medal again for his his book A Ball for Dasiy

Little Black Crow is a little rhyming tale about self-awareness. It’s a series of questions posed to a crow by a little boy who’s wondering about his place in the world and if other animals wonder about that too. It’s a book about wondering and being inspired to ask questions about the little things. Now, since this is a children’s book, there’s a lesson to it but the lesson of the book is included in a very clever way through the boy’s questions. Instead of cramming a lesson in through exposition, it’s subtly slipped into the prose. The little boy asks simple questions to himself about what the crow’s life might be like and in doing so, the story that shows the fun of curiosity and the often misinterpreted need for empathy.

The art style of Little Black Crow is a minimalistic style. The lettering is done with big, thick, black letters and the illustrations are done with in a small selection of hues in simple water colours. It’s done in a doodle like fashion and looks about as a child’s level which is actually brilliant: kids will indentify with it more if it looks like they could create it themselves. It really is a clever way to add in a little more subtly empathy!

My final thoughts on Little Black Crow are that it’s a brilliant little book for kids, or anyone else for that matter! The art style is cute and the story even cuter. It’ll teach children empathy for people and things around them and the more empathy that can be introduced into the world, the better I say!

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