cover image Emily and the Crows

Emily and the Crows

Elaine Greenstein. Picture Book Studio Ltd, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-88708-238-2

Celebrating the power of imagination, this uneven debut features a talking cow, flying pigs and gargantuan vegetables. Ivy notices that her favorite cow, Emily, grazes apart from the herd each day, and is always surrounded by a crowd of cackling crows. When the girl's attempts to understand this curious attraction scare the birds away, she perfects a crow imitation and joins the group unnoticed. She discovers that Emily is a gifted storyteller, spinning tales of winged pigs and mutant crops for an enthusiastic feathered audience. Utilizing a unique watercolor-and-lithograph technique, Greenstein renders highly textured, colorful images. Stylistically reminiscent of Early American artwork, her static figures lack child appeal; their mauves, slate blues and greens impart a decidedly contemporary feel. The execution of this whimsical and original premise is unfortunately marred by spiritless prose and occasionally stiff phrasing. The magic of these fanciful happenings is not fully captured here, and readers may well be unsatisfied at the story's end. Ages 3-up. (Apr.)