A MAN CALLED RAVEN by Richard Van Camp


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Van Camp's tale teaches respect for life, both human and animal. Toby and Chris are brothers--one light-skinned, with brown hair and blue eyes, the other with dark skin, brown eyes, and black hair--who are caught tormenting a raven. The man who confronts Toby and Chris is an imposing soul and tells them the story of a man who once also abused a raven. That raven started to follow the man, who is gradually transformed into a raven He flies back to spy upon his old neighbors and discovers that the whole village has turned out for his funeral, demonstrating respect for his life even though he was wicked and without a kind word for anyone. The man/raven is transformed again, this time into a raven who looks out for his people in times of trouble. When the situation warrants it, he can become a man to remind others of the lessons he's learned. The storyteller takes his leave of the boys, in a flurry of feathers. The intentionally didactic text loses power in the juxtaposition of the contemporary framework and the storyteller's timeless words. If the ending is obvious, it will still have children considering the consequences of cruelty, and Littlechild's bold, stylized artwork will not only draw them in, but have them reaching for paints and paper.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1997
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Children's Book Press