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François Gravel
Translated by Sheila Fischman
Toronto, James Lorimer & Company, 1993.
80pp, paper, $8.95, ISBN 1-550-28-417-1.
(Lorimer Blue Kite Adventure). Originally published as
Corneilles (Les éditions du Boréal, 1989). CIP

Subject Headings:

Grades 3-5 / Ages 8-10

Reviewed by Dave Jenkinson

Volume 22 Number 4
1994 September

Award-winning Quebec author Gravel has written some five French-language books for children, with,  My Life as a Crow being the second translated into English. In this larger-than-life fantasy, the unnamed ten-year-old narrator looks back on the two event-filled days he spent as a boy in a crow's body.

Why and how the lad elected to become a crow consumes much of the book's plot. Well mannered at home and a model student, the narrator must daily run a five-block gauntlet to and from school. On four of the five corners are one or more bullies plus a cranky old lady with a big dog. Frustrated at his inability to deal with his human tormentors, the boy makes a slingshot to shoot at some annoying crows. Successful in hitting one, the boy is immediately filled with remorse and attempts to mend the bird's wing. The crow begins to talk to him and describes the advantages of a crow's life-style, including the opportunity to be rude, to eat junk food, to stay up late, and to get dirty and never bathe. When the crow tells the boy witches can transform him into a crow, the lad agrees because, "I'm tired of being all nice and clean and good." Additionally, in crow's guise, he can play dirty tricks on those who have bullied him.

Life as a crow, however, is not what he imagined it to be, and the boy must then seek the spell to undo his transformation. Requiring complete suspension of reason,  My Life as a Crow is a fun read which imaginatively revisits the adage concerning the grass being greener....


Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in juvenile literature at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg, Manitoba

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