Song for Papa Crow
No. Pages: 32 Ages: 4 to 8
From inside jacket: Little Crow loves to sing, and Papa Crow loves his song. But when Little Crow shares his crow songs with the other birds at the big old tree, they laugh and scatter. Maybe the Amazing Mockingbird can teach him to sing songs with the finches, flycatchers, and cardinals—and help him make some friends. But Little Crow should be careful what he wishes for . . .
Using Mockingbird’s tip, Little Crow becomes the most popular bird on the block. But, in a moment of danger, he learns that singing someone else’s song can have terrible consequences and that his own voice—and his father’s love—is of the greatest value.
Little Crow so desperately wants a friend he will do most anything to get one, even if that means fitting in to the point of losing his own identity. When he begins to sing like the other birds, he is welcomed, becomes part of the group. What Little Crow does not realize is the cost one incurs when making a major change to fit in with the crowd.
For Little Crow, singing the other bird’s songs to fit in and have friends could cost him his life when a hawk appears overhead. Little Crow is in danger and sings out, but Papa Crow does not understand it is his son’s singing—he no longer recognizes Little Crow’s songs.
Little Crow said, “Per-CHIC-o-ree!”—Heelllllp!
“Poor Finch,” said Papa Crow.
Little Crow sings out, “Fee-beeee!”—Help me!
“Poor Phoebe Flycatcher!” said Papa Crow.
Like Little Crow, kids do not like being different, they want to fit in with the crowd and be accepted. Those that do not dress as the others dress, speak as the others speak, or act as the other act are often shunned and ridiculed by those that do meld into one. But the group looks, speech, and actions often do not have room for individuality, originality, or creativity. That can be hard for a kid to understand when all they want to do is fit in, have friends, and not be teased.
Little Crow had lost his identity. His Papa no longer connected Little Crow’s singing to Little Crow. In a time of need, Papa Crow could not reach out. As a social worker, I love these types of books. Kids need to know it is okay to be themselves; to act, speak, dress like themselves and not anyone else. Fitting in with the crowd is not always the best idea. I have seen smart kids trade their intelligence to fit in and lose much more than they ever gained. Kids who are different for any reason will lose what may be the best part of themselves simply to fit in.
I like Song for Papa Crow because it can open up a dialogue between parent and kids. The story can help kids understand that fitting in may not always be the best thing to do.
The illustrations, also created by the author, are beautiful collages. There are many birds, depicted in their wonderfully layered shades of color, on every page. On Papa Crow’s head, the feathers are short and look soft. The feathers making up his tail are long and smooth. You can see the strength in the hawk and the sudden fear in Little Crow.
In addition to a good story about preserving one’s identity, there is a short primer on North American birds. I really like this book. Song for Papa Crow is a beautiful book, with thick pages for the younger kids, interesting bird facts, and a good story that can teach kids to stay true to themselves.
Teachers, school social workers, and others who regularly work with kids will find this book immensely helpful. Parents can use the story to open a dialogue about fitting in and being true to one’s self. Kids will like the illustrations of the birds and can use the book as a guide to the birds in their neighborhood.
Song for Papa Crow is a good story for any time or reason. For collectors, the illustrations are beautiful and this is the first complete book by now author and illustrator Marit Menzin.