A picture-book parable set in the animal world with the themes of bullying and forgiveness.
Old Crow is tormented by the younger, better-looking birds led by the prideful, brilliantly plumaged Cardinal. When Crow finally squawks back, he finds himself ostracized and alone. Winter arrives, and the other birds fly south, but Cardinal and Crow stay. As Cardinal feeds from the bird feeder located near Crow’s branch, Crow warns him about dangers lurking, but Cardinal doesn’t listen and is caught by a cat. Crow tricks Cat into letting Cardinal go, and when a thankful Cardinal asks Crow how he knew what to do, Crow tells him that “pride and foolishness often roost on the same branch.” Cardinal gets the message, and when the other birds return in the spring, they follow Cardinal’s lead and tease Crow no longer. While interesting enough, the narrative nonetheless is a bit too long; fables benefit from brevity. The illustrations—all full-bleed double-page spreads—mirror the text. Some have a delicate touch and elegant line, but others look clunky and unfinished; close-ups in particular suffer. The wintry palette limits him already, and by choosing to illustrate his story so literally, Moniz misses an opportunity to create a rich visual experience.
Though the theme’s upstanding, the book as a whole is little more than just pleasant. (Picture book. 4-7)