Pfister swaps out words for signs—mostly big dots with happy, sad, or mad faces—in this tale of a trickster raven’s ups and downs.
Instead of words, emojis do the communication here. Walking along distractedly beneath a tiny storm cloud, Raven bashes into a tree (stars), poses with a bandaged beak (frowning pile of dung), then discovers (smirking devil) that sporting more bandages earns more sympathy (hearts and haloed, smiling dots) from other birds. That exploit ends when Raven, totally swathed, is first mistaken for litter and swept up with other trash (scowling faces). The bird then seeks a bit of redemption by bringing a distressed worm (cue a tiny version of the dung, now alarmed) to a cute baby bird (more smiles and hearts). The emojis, enlarged and redrawn with slightly more modeling than seen in standard versions, float singly or in clusters like balloons in the woodsy cartoon scenes. Though they work as broad signals of mood, their placement sometimes makes it unclear whether they’re supposed to apply to Raven or (the worm excepted) others. Also, the incandescent light bulb and devil’s face that appear when Raven first spots the baby bird plainly indicate some sort of trick in the offing, but Pfister leaves readers in the dark about what it might have been if the avian trickster hadn’t changed his mind on the next page. Some, not all, of the visual vocabulary is reproduced on two pages of large stickers at the end.
A trendy experiment in narrative, clumsily done and unlikely to gain much traction except as a curiosity. (Picture book. 4-6)