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The Crow’s Tale – An Alternative Valentine’s Story

Title: The Crow’s Tale

Author/Illustrator: Naomi Howarth

Age Group: 3-8

Synopsis: When all the animals are suffering from the extended winter, Rainbow Crow flies to the Sun to seek help.


The Low Down:

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching and the book shelves are full of sweet stories full of love and friendship. The Crow’s Tale doesn’t address this theme in the traditional sense. You won’t see any hand written Valentines or candy in this story. But the true meaning of the day really lies in our actions towards others. And in this, The Crow’s Tale hits it out of the park. Filled with displays of love, bravery, and acceptance all depicted in beautiful illustrations, it is a Valentine’s Day read that truly displays the heart of the matter.

The story begins with the deep winter in which the animals are all living. The cold and snow have dampened their spirits and they are finding it hard to carry on. Looking out the window at the grey and white, I can easily relate. They decide that one of them must seek out the Sun and beg for relief from this dreary existence. They choose an animal who is not only brave but bright and beautifully colored with a lovely singing voice. Of course, only Crow fits this description. He agrees to take on this mission and flies up through the blizzarding snowstorm of clouds to reach the kingdom of the Sun. The Sun gives Crow a burning branch of sunlight. Crow accepts the smoldering piece of sunfire and begins the return flight, battling the soot and smoke created by the dangerous but life-saving object. He finally returns and the animals are relieved. They celebrate that Crow has saved them. Crow, however, is aghast by how his beautiful rainbow feathers been blackened and his melodious singing voice is now just a croak. This is later revealed to be a constant reminder from the Sun to others of his sacrifice, selflessness, and love for those around him. The animals embrace him for his actions and he, in turn, embraces himself.

Howarth provides a beautiful and brightly colored depiction of Crow that caused Bug and I to gaze in awe. She cleverly uses and diverse range of patterns to bring his feathers to life and later a shiny paper to give added depth to Crow’s blackened feathers. Bug spent a full five minutes moving the page back and forth, admiring these. The entire book is a beautiful collection of of illustrations. Although each animal has their own style that adds a bit of comedy to the tale. Howarth additionally contributes lovely endpapers that make this story a winner beginning to end.

On Valentine’s Day we write cards and give flowers and candy but it is also our actions all year long that exemplify how we feel about others. Crow risks himself for the other animals of the forest in this traditional tale retold. An action that not only displays bravery but his love and caring for those around him. We do not need to have that one romantic connection on Valentine’s day, we can easily look around and see the love and sacrifices that those around us make. From the small moments such as holding open a door for another, to the simple act of going to work every morning. There is love swirling around us all year long. It is just days like Valentine’s that remind us to look around and see it.


Story Tips:

  1. Read this with your Valentine or anyone. Sharing books about kindness and bravery are another way we can show love for those around us.

I need more!

Naomi Howarth not only does illustrations but interior decorating. Talk about a renaissance woman. Her previous book features the Walrus and Rabbit from The Crow’s Tale in What’s That Noise? Her next book, Tug of War, is out in August 2017. For more visit her website: http://www.naomihowarth.com.


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