‘Franny skipped down the steps and into the bright morning air. Every bug, every petal was shimmering with wonder…’
According to Franny’s dad, she’s a dreamer – someone who doesn’t think about what she’s doing and leaves the kitchen in a mess. But Franny does pay attention to things that really matter – things like backyard shadows and birdsong. So when a big, black crow approaches her, pecking at her sandwich crumbs, she watches him.
‘He’s beautiful and shiny!’ Franny tells Dad, later that evening. But Dad won’t believe she’s made friends with a bird. And when the crow brings gifts – a bead, a tiny silver heart – Dad calls her a featherhead and accuses her of inventing silly stories. So Franny takes Dad to meet her new friend. ‘I know you want to believe…’ Dad says, as they wait by the rock. Then a glossy black bird swoops down out of nowhere and lands on Franny’s head, and Dad has to change his mind. ‘From that moment on,’ says the wise and gentle text, ‘Franny’s dad did his best to pay attention to what she said’ – a well-judged wish-fulfilment outcome which will resonate with many readers.
Candace Savage loves crows, writes non-fiction as well as stories and understands the importance of connecting children with the natural world. When she heard about a girl in Seattle who received gifts from the crows she was feeding, Savage decided to write a book ‘infused with crow facts’ that would prompt readers to explore their own balconies, gardens and city skies.
Chelsea O’Byrne’s artwork captures the open-minded wonder of Savage’s text and takes it somewhere even deeper and more resonant. Richly-saturated colours make these illustrations glow, with crayon details adding form and texture to the timber planking, tiles and backyard greenery. Franny and Crow share the same dark heads, bright eyes and alert interest, which highlights their connection, but Crow is not anthropomorphized. We are not invited to think of him as a pet, but as a fellow creature deserving of our interest and care.
There’s a quietly special quality about this book – it’s one to treasure and share, and the ‘Curious about Crows’ facts on the final page are a welcome extra.