CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 9. . . .November 4, 2016
Rosie the Raven.
Helga Bansch. Translated by Shelley Tanaka.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2016.
60 pp., pbk., hc., html & pdf, $9.95 (pbk.), $21.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-1-55451-833-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-55451-834-0 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-55451-835-7 (html), ISBN 978-1-55451-836-4 (pdf).
Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.
Review by Aileen Wortley.
My brothers and sisters opened their beaks wide. I was hungry too, so I did the same. We ate worms, flies, maggots and snails. The rest of the time we slept, had cawing contests and goofed around. I was always cold, so Papa got me a dress and a hat. “Our little Rosie,” Mama called me.
Every day others would come and stare at us. “Poor little worm,” they whispered. “It needs to exercise its wings.” Or “It’s pretty ugly. Rub it with birch leaves. That will make its feathers grow.”
One pink and four green eggs in a raven’s nest hatch into a human child and four baby ravens. The child who becomes the narrator of the story is named Rosie by her loving Mama. Rosie tells of the fun she and her raven siblings have together, but she also shares how hard it is to imitate them without a beak or wings, and she finds cawing makes her hoarse. When onlookers speak pityingly of her, she realises that she’s different, but, upon reflection, she wisely decides to appreciate the things she can do that the ravens can’t and vice versa. Most importantly, they all accept each other for who they are, each making adaptations as necessary.
Rosie the Raven is a fresh and joyful story about the love that prevails in families, no matter their composition. It is also about accepting oneself for who you are. Rosie has an unquenchable enthusiasm for life that makes her a loveable character. Her story is told gently but with a practical matter-of-factness as she learns to accept herself, strengths and weaknesses alike. In the same way, her family is equally accepting, loving her unconditionally as she does them.
The lovely illustrations are a collage of pencil drawing, acrylic paint, monotype and old maps. They are full of whimsy and quaint humour that has the reader smiling throughout. The pastel shades of pinks and greens against muted beiges and greys make a beautiful contrast to the jet black of the ravens.
What at first glimpse seems to be an off-beat, rather quirky story has a lovely understated feel to it with levels of depth that reveal the beauty of tolerance and acceptance of oneself and of others. Since we are all ‘different’ in one way or another, Rosie the Raven is a book we can all relate to. A great read for children aged five to eight and their families!!
Aileen Wortley is a retired librarian living in Toronto, ON.
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