#1021 – The Cantankerous Crow by Lennart Hellsing and Poul Strøyer

ce The Cantankerous Crow
Written by Lennart Hellsing
Illustrated by Poul Strøyer
Thames & Hudson   11/15/2016
28 pages   Ages 4—8

“The most maddening crow in
world history is out to cause
trouble! He can’t resist the
farmer’s cherries—and one day
he gets caught. The farmer tries
to punish the crow with hard
labor, but the crow only causes
a lot of bother. Exasperated, the
farmer takes the crow to sell at
market—but who wants to
buy a troublesome crow?”

Deep in the forest a crow family lived. There were four daughters and one son. Each daughter aspired to accomplish something. One to write her name, one to sing a song, one to cook jam, and the last to build a castle. The one son also held an aspiration. He wanted to eat the cherries off the farmer’s cherry tree. He tried. He got caught. The farmer wanted retribution and ordered the crow to do hard labor. Crow cut wood for the fireplace—from the flagpole, leaving it stacked around the farm. No matter what chore Crow did, he did it his way, which ended up making the farmer irate.

Tired of the crow’s troublemaking, the farmer took it to market. He had some trouble selling such a cantankerous crow, but finally traded it for three cookies. The baker who bought Crow has Crow bake cake, but Crow never learned a lesson. Crow’s “work” made the baker furious. He let the cantankerous Crow go. Crow went to his favorite place . . . home. Crow’s four sisters welcomed him home with a banner, a song, a wonderful multi-level cake, and a room of his own in a castle.
1eThe Cantankerous Crow, “inspired by folktales about crows who mischievously lie in wait for country folk,” was written to change the state of picture books after World War II. Author, Lennart Hellsing, in an author’s note, explains why he began writing picture books, including The Cantankerous Crow. It was post WWII and children’s picture books were of poor quality. Danish artist Poul Strøyer moved to Stockholm for a newspaper art position where Hellsing was a journalist. They got along well and the two decided to change the direction of children’s picture books.

Hellsing thought, “Why are there so many bad picture books in the world? Good pictures don’t cost any more than bad pictures.” Their first co-written book, Summa Summarum (All in all), was nominated for best picture book of the year. Next came The Cantankerous Crow, published in 1953 in Sweden. The English edition arrived in 1959.

The Cantankerous Crow will make young children smile and giggle. Though created more than sixty years ago, the illustrations are humorous and contain brightly colored, interesting characters, many of which are outside of the main story, such as the people who pop out of their homes to check out the farmer’s son riding in a crow-pulled wagon. Action and motion are evident in the spreads, where surprise elements await observant readers.
2eIs there a point to The Cantankerous Crow? No, not really. The Cantankerous Crow is to be a whimsical story read for fun. The text rhymes with a nice bouncy feel to it. The story is a joy to read, even multiple times. Hellsing wanted to make books that were colorful and gorgeous to look at. The stories were to entertain children, not necessarily teach them a moral, or send them a message. He wanted beautiful books kids would enjoy reading and love returning to, even sixty years later.

THE CANTANKEROUS CROW. Text and illustrations copyright © 1953 and 2008 by Lennart Hellsing. Illustrations copyright © 1953 and 2008 by Poul Strøyer. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Thames & Hudson, London/New York.



Originally published in Sweden © 1953 by Rabén & Sjögren. Original title: DEN KRĀNGLIGA KRĀKAN


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Add The Cantankerous Crow to Your Goodreads Shelf HERE.


.The Cantankerous Crow cover:   Courtesy Thames & Hudson

Interior Illustrations:   Text © Lennart Hellsing 1953 and 2008
                                             Illustrations © Poul Strøyer 1953 and 2008

Reprinted with permission from THE CANTANKEROUS CROW © 1953, 2008, by Lennart Hellsing, Thames & Hudson. © 1953, 2008, by Poul Strøyer.


Copyright © 2016 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved

The Cantankerous Crow
Written by Lennart Hellsing
Illustrated by Poul Strøyer
Thames & Hudson 11/15/2016


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