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The Children's Bookshelf: The Crow and the Peacock

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This is the Children’ s Bookshelf and I’m Sue Ann Martin

The Crow and the Peacock written and illustrated by Jo Fernihough is a colorful re-working of a fable from times past that will speak clearly to children today.

Crow, the main character, has always been a happy fellow but he begins to doubt his happiness after he hears the beautiful cooing of a dove. He thinks no one would want to listen to his rough Caw. So, he goes to Dove and tells her she must be the happiest bird in the world. “I thought I was happy”, said Dove, “until I heard Nightingale sing. His singing is so magnificent, it makes my cooing sound plain.”

As the fable progresses, Crow visits Nightingale but Nightingale thinks Rooster is the happiest bird because Rooster’s “cock a doodle doo” is heard by so many people. But Rooster thinks Swan is the happiest because Swan lives in a cool river and Swan thinks Peacock is the happiest because his feathers sparkle like jewels.  It seems like all the birds are unhappy because they judge their own happiness by what others have rather than by what they each have of value.

The fable is well told in both crisp words and colorful pictures. Also, there is a wonderful visual surprise on the very last page that children will find delightful.

The Crow and the Peacock written and illustrated by Jo Fernihough is a fun lesson about honoring self-worth not by what others have or do  but by your own specialness. It is a terrific read aloud book for young readers 4-8 years of age (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2021).

The Children’s Bookshelf is a production of WCMU. Links to the podcast and Activity Questions, ideal for home use, can be found at Children’s Bookshelf dot org.

Activity Questions for The Crow and the Peacock

What characteristic of yourself makes you happy? Think about it. Do you draw beautiful pictures? Do you build sturdy sandcastles? Can you jump rope super-fast?  Do you speak a second language? Do you make the best chocolate chip cookies ever? Can you recite a poem by heart?

Make a list of all the things you can do that makes you happy with yourself.

Be each of the birds in this story. Let’s hear you sing their songs. You can probably hear a crow’s Caw outside, however, you can go online and hear the song/or sound of each of the birds in this fable. Try to be each of these birds. Practice the cooing, the cock a doodle-do call and all the other sounds that you hear. Also, make sure you take on the body shape of each of these birds. You can see each of them in the book. Then, put on a bird song show for your family. Have some musical fun! Maybe parents will join you.

Have you ever read any of Aesop’s Fables? If so, do you have a favorite?

Why? What is the lesson that you learned?

Sue Ann Martin is professor emerita of Communication and Dramatic Arts and the founding and past Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. She first became interested in children’s literature when she wrote her PhD thesis on the oral characteristics of the Caldecott Award-winning children’s books. Her PhD is in Speech and Interpretation with a cognate in Early Childhood Education. She went on to review children’s books for the Detroit Free Press, write three popular resource books for teachers regarding children’s books and the creative process. She also reviewed newly-published books for Arts Almanac specials on WCMU Public Radio. Her 2002 children’s books special for WCMU won a Merit Award in Special Interest Programming from the Michigan Association of Broadcasters.