Crow Boy

crow boy

Crow Boy

Taro Yashima
Viking, 1955, 1983

From the dust jacket, “Chibi has been an outcast since that frightening first day of school when he hid under the schoolhouse. Afraid of the teacher and unable make any friends, Chibi passes his free time along—alone at study time, alone at playtime, always a “forlorn little tag-along.” But when Mr. Isobe arrives, the teacher sees things in Chibi that no one else has ever noticed….

 

Chibi is a little boy who is bullied and ignored by kids his own age. He grows from the first year of school to the final 6th year and never makes a childhood friend. But he seems happy with himself and in his final school year he blossoms under the attention of a caring teacher. Even his fellow classmates admit their wrong in how they treated him.

The lessons in acceptance and tolerance of those who don’t follow the main stream is subtle but clear. It would be nice to think that, like in the book, the bullies of our lives would come to the realization that every cat and kitten are important – regardless of who they are or what they look like. The illustrations are colorful and crudely drawn. I don’t mind this type of illustration every once in a while, but I wouldn’t want a steady diet of it; it’s too abstract for my tastes. But don’t let the illustrations keep you from reading this book to yourself and your kittens. We all need a lesson in acceptance – it seems to be a skill lacking in many toms, queens and kittens of all ages.

Rating 4 out of 5 paws because the positive ending to a potentially very sad story of bullying.

For banned/challenged book information, please scroll past the illustrations!

 

This book was challenged by a school board member in Queens (NY) in 1994 because it “denigrates white American culture, promotes racial separation and discourages assimilation.” The rest of the school board voted to retain the book.

So…this is a book written and illustrated by a Japanese writer/artist, it’s setting an unnamed village in rural Japan, peopled only by Japanese – and it denigrates American white culture? Promotes racial separation and discourages assimilation? Really? Was the American school board member so egotistical that he (or she) felt the American white culture is so superior to anything else in the world that all other cultures pale by comparison? Thank the Lord for the other board members who voted to retain this book. Were they not more broadly minded, this precious story would’ve been consigned to the book graveyard.

I really try to stay neutral on the subject of banning/challenging books in reviewing them, but some charges are just too ludicrous not to speak up.

Reviewer:

jack-loc

Jack, North Carolina Division Chief and Banned Books Librarian

Valkyrie

valkyrieValkyrie

Kate O’Hearn
Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 2016, 2013

In this middle-grade book, Freya is poised to become a real Valkyrie, or, a “Reaper of Souls.” In Asgard time she is 600 years old but in human years she is 13. Freya was born different – with raven-black wings instead of the normal pure white ones and she is restless, having no desire to reap souls of the battlefields of humans and bring them to Valhalla, the ‘heaven’ of the Norse gods. On her first reap she takes the soul of an American soldier who talks her into helping his family left behind on earth even though she risks the wrath of Odin, the king of all the gods. If caught she will not only lose her wings, but will be blinded and banished forever. Being the restless and reckless teenaged-Valkyrie Freya is, she sets out for earth to help her soldier’s family.

While the story was enjoyable and I don’t have anything really negative to say about it, I don’t have anything really positive to say either. I didn’t find Freya to be so likeable that I was able to become emotionally involved in her story, or in that of her new found human friends. Most of the book is a PSA about bullying and the bullies are ultimately  punished in the end – at least the human ones are. The Norse god bullies aren’t dealt with in this book (maybe in the two sequels they are). There are only two reasons I put a book down for more than one day while reading: 1. I am so emotionally involved in the character(s) I need an emotional break; and 2. The book is just okay and I could continue reading or not without giving the characters another thought. Valkyrie falls into the number two category. It’s just okay.

Rating 3 paws

bobbiesue booksReviewer: BobbieSue

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