Book Review: How Raven Got His Crooked Nose


As part of my Post-K Summer Reading Boot Camp:

From the title, I thought I would be led to a clever reason why the raven had a crooked nose, but such was not the case.

I know this is a retelling–one I’m sure the authors wanted to honor–but this fable wasn’t compelling enough to warrant a retelling.  The graphic novel format was a huge turnoff, and the illustrations were paint-by-the-numbers. The segments with the grandmother and granddaughter could’ve been eliminated; just tell me the story directly rather than show me someone telling the story.  

What’s more, the main character (i.e. the raven, Chulyen) was bland.  

I liked that there was a glossary, though I’m thinking some context clues embedded in the story would’ve been better for young children.  The “More About” section in the back as well as the further reading suggestions and map were great additions (albeit for those who enjoyed the book), but the story itself was awful.  

Maybe legends like these are better told in the oral storytelling form; I feel the same way about Greek mythology, which I’ve always loved.  Sometimes, one’s imagination does a better job of painting the pictures in one’s mind than an illustrator does.  

Suggested activity:  Read “Just-So Stories” by Rudyard Kipling instead.  If you’re a writer, you could try your hand at one of these prompts: further honor the oral storytelling tradition, I will write (or retell) a piece, send it to my Kindle (a phone screen is too small and too distracting), and read it aloud.  Reading without visuals teaches your children to listen more and to not depend on pictures all the time to get their information. Listening, especially active listening, is a skill.  (I believe this is one of the many reasons people prefer texting over telephoning, and I confess that I’m one of them.) When your children are listening to you and not looking at the book, they are also looking at you–they are making that eye contact.  That’s why singing to your child is so important as you tend to have the lyrics memorized.

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