Sunday, May 26, 2019

Review - A Man Called Raven

A Man Called Raven
by Richard Van Camp
illustrated by George Littlechild
Date: 1997
Publisher: Children's Book Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 32
Format: e-book
Source: library

A mysterious man tells two Indian brothers why they must not hurt the ravens that pester them.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I don't know. Something about this story just rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it's because the resolution is facile and unrealistic. Maybe it's because I don't like the illustrations. In any case, I'm struggling to find much that I like about this one.

The book starts out with an appalling display of animal cruelty by two little boys. They're beating a raven with broken hockey sticks, and the poor thing can't get away because they've broken its wing. I'm sorry, but I doubt telling a couple of budding psychopaths a story is going to alter the trajectory of their lives. Because that's what happens: a man suddenly shows up and gets the boys to take him to their house, where he smokes and drinks coffee and tells the boys a story about a man who got turned into a raven after abusing ravens.

Like I said, I find it difficult to believe that kids who are already that callous and have that little empathy would be swayed from committing further acts of animal cruelty. At the very least, they have terrible problem-solving skills. (Their excuse for beating up the bird is because it gets into their garbage. Hello?! Bird-proof your garbage cans. It's not that hard.)

The illustrations aren't to my taste, but your mileage may vary. I'm not a fan of the rough, colourful style on display here.

Overall, this was kind of a disappointment. I've enjoyed some of Richard Van Camp's other books, but those have been for much younger readers. A Man Called Raven is probably aimed at older children, although I don't know if I'd want to give it to any child because of the bad example the two boys set. (We never really find out if the boys change their ways. They say they understand, but... then again, they lied about beating the bird when they were caught. So I don't know if I'd trust them.)

Premise: 2/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.17 out of 5

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