cover image Crowbar: The Smartest Bird in the World

Crowbar: The Smartest Bird in the World

Jean Craighead George, with Luke and Twig George, illus. by Wendell Minor. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-000257-2

Penned by late Newbery Medalist Jean Craighead George and adapted by her children, this picture book follows the family’s real experience of rescuing and raising a baby crow foundling they named Crowbar. Narrated by a pale redheaded child, the tale follows the corvid as he learns human speech, steals food and shiny objects, and uses tools—dismantling Grandpa’s dismissive expectations of crows’ abilities along the way—before joining up with a murder. In straightforward, dialogue-heavy prose (“Mom gave me a book about bird communication. I learned that crows speak to each other in their own language”), the George siblings relay how the child protagonist works to take care of and teach Crowbar, seamlessly incorporating facts about crows. Minor’s art, done in graphite and gouache and enhanced digitally, offers realistic, meticulous snapshots of the crow and family, forming a tender interspecies familial portrait. Back matter includes more about crows, with a list of additional resources. Ages 4–8. [em](Oct.) [/em]