THE COMPANY OF CROWS: A Book of Poems

Marilyn Singer, Author, Linda Saport, Illustrator , illus. by Linda Saport. Clarion $16 (48p) ISBN 978-0-618-08340-4

Despite the striking full-bleed art and the author's enthusiasm for her subject, this collection of poems about crows may not fly with the target audience. For starters, youngsters may have trouble reading the poems, printed as they are in thin font against deep-colored backgrounds. Ostensibly each poem has a different narrator, but because Singer's (Quiet Night) voice varies relatively little, readers will have trouble distinguishing one character from another. For example, the speaker in "The Boy" refers formally to "those merry, scolding crows" as if he were an adult birdwatcher; "The Birdwatcher," meanwhile, indulges in childlike questions ("Does a crow have a choice/ how to think, how to be?"). The design compounds the problems—sometimes the titles, contained within the art, appear below the poem, so that readers may not recognize that a new poem has begun. Saport's (All the Pretty Horses) arresting, bold pastel illustrations adopt an imaginative array of perspectives, and her colors seem almost to glow. However, the slightly abstract quality of her compositions makes them best viewed from a slight distance, whereas close proximity is needed to make out the text. Ages 5-9. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/19/2002
Release date: 09/01/2002
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