Friday 17 June 2016

ReadItDaddy's First Book of the Week - Week Ending 17th June 2016 - "The Cantankerous Crow" by Lennart Hellsing and Poul Stroyer (Thames and Hudson)

Our first book of the week this week is even older than I am. It's 60 years old in fact, but it's absolutely brilliant! "The Cantankerous Crow" by Lennart Hellsing and Poul Stroyer...
We've said it many times on the blog before, we do love it when a well-loved classic from the past is given some love and reprinted for a modern audience.

"The Cantankerous Crow" is nearly 60 years old and it's fantastic to see that the sort of children's book format that we all assume is new and modern actually has its roots way way back in the early to mid 20th century when writers and artists like Lennart and Poul were creating books that fused entertaining writing with glorious illustrations.

The main character in "The Cantankerous Crow" is indeed a crow brother. He can't resist stealing cherries from the local farmer's cherry orchards but one day he falls foul of the angry farmer, who captures him and trots off to market to see if he can rid himself of the troublesome bird...

A crow for 3 cookies? BARGAIN!
It doesn't take long before the farmer trades the crow for three delicious cookies. The ruddy-faced baker thinks that he'll be able to train the crow to help out around the bakery. But as any wise child will know, crows are RUBBISH at baking...!

Oh I dunno, I think there's a market for weird artisanal pretzels myself!
Poor crow misses his family but with the odds stacked against him, he wonders if he's ever going to make it home to his crow mum and dad, and crow sisters.

We won't spoil the end of the story for you, but as you can see from the glorious page spreads shown above, this really is a true children's classic in ever sense of the word. The rhymes may have suffered in translation in a couple of places but still work beautifully. The artwork is from that era of children's books where the bold and larger-than-life characters really help drive the story along (and can't you almost taste those pretzels in the book spread above?)

We loved this a lot, and rather liked the idea that it would work for quite a range of ages. Fantastically entertaining and chaotic for little ones but a fab read for older kids too.

Charlotte's best bit: The crow being caught red handed (or should that be red beaked) in the cherry orchards. AWKWARD!

Daddy's favourite bit: It's amazing to see the obvious inspiration for so many other books in this one, and the picture book format that has stood the test of time being used in a book that's as old as your grandma. Fabulous stuff!

(Kindly sent to us for review by Thames and Hudson)

"The Cantankerous Crow" 

Written by Lennart Hellsing

Illustrated by Poul Stroyer

Published by Thames and Hudson

Publication Date: 14th June 2016