A perhaps familiar story, related with a dose of irony and illustrated with dazzling special effects. Crawford the Raven feels that he's special, but looks like any other raven; a witch transforms him into ""a spectacular creature"" leading to his move to the king's palace, where he is promptly caged. To gain his freedom, he yanks out his feathers, and returns to his friends in the forest, plucked but happy. Perfectly timed wisecracks are hatched whenever the story permits; Wilhelm (The Boy Who Wasn't There, 1993, etc.) uses his characteristically understated humor that reveals itself best in slightly skewed expressions or the deadpan use of familiar idioms. If the text is understated, the illustrations take the opposite tack. The main feature of these big, colorful watercolors are the raven's glittering gold feathers; similar in effect to the fins on Marcus Pfister's Rainbow Fish (1992), these plump the book with real live magic.