cover image Lila and the Crow

Lila and the Crow

Gabrielle Grimard, trans. from the French by Paula Ayer. Annick (PGW, dist.), $18.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55451-858-6

New in town, Lila hopes to make friends at school but is instead taunted by her classmates. Led by a redheaded boy named Nathan, the children point and laugh at Lila, describing her hair, skin, and eyes as being “black like a crow” (in reality, her skin is light brown). In her first outing as an author, illustrator Grimard (Not My Girl) delivers a painful story of exclusion and bullying, tinged with magic. As the days pass, Lila covers her features with a scarf, sweater, and glasses while rejecting an actual crow that seems to be reaching out to her. Grimard’s windswept paintings emphasize Lila’s isolation as the story builds to a triumphant conclusion brought about when she sees a crow up close: “She’s surprised to see how beautiful its black feathers are, highlighted with purple.” After “hundreds of crows” descend and encircle the girl, she gathers their feathers to create a crow costume for an upcoming school festival, reclaiming her nickname and winning over her classmates. Though this turnaround comes a bit easily, Grimard’s story never sugarcoats the depths of Lila’s hurt. Ages 5–8. (Oct.)