The Crows of Pearblossom

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by Aldous Huxley; illustrated by Sophie Blackall; published (2011) by Harry N. Abrams; reprint edition

The mystery of how Mrs. Crow’s eggs are disappearing is solved : it’s that sneaky Rattlesnake who lives in the cottonwood tree; he’s been eating them all before they can hatch. Poor Mrs. Crow is hysterical. Poor Mrs. Crow turns to her staidly (and very rude) Mr. Crow to solve the problem. Mr. Crow turns to his good friend Mr. Owl to do the smart thinking for him. And as smart as any owl is supposed to be, Mr. Owl hatches a crafty plan to save the unhatched eggs. He bakes mud to look like eggs, and he paints them, and into the empty nest they go. Mud eggs are NOT digestible! Poor Rattlesnake thrashes about in pain and all  his thrashing gets him tied into knots around the branches of the cottonwood – a nice neat ending for Mrs. Crow, who uses him as a handy-dandy clothesline for all of her babies’ diapers.

THE CROWS  OF PEARBLOSSOM was written by Huxley in 1944 as a Christmas gift for his lucky, lucky niece, Olivia. And it seems to be an either you love it or hate it kind of book. Many may take issue with Mr. Crow’s reproachable attitude toward his wife (politeness is not his strong suit), but it’s a piece of writing history, written at a time when the `emotional, nagging wife’ stereotype was commonplace and for that reason I  will more or less (no pun intended) swallow it.

If you’re going to read this story to your kids you may want to have a discussion about what is not ok and it may be good to explain about respectful husband-wife interactions and how they’ve evolved since, and that can be another kind  of education.

But because it’s vintage, because it’s Huxley, because I’m sentimental and because of its plain good writing and illustrations, this is a 5 star book for me.


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