In this north-country quest for self-identity, Bartholomew can’t tell what kind of creature he is until he discovers what he’s not.
Hanson sets his original tale long ago, when animals were first getting acquainted with one another. Though the text states firmly that he is a crow, Bartholomew doesn’t know this and sets out to see just what he is. In rough-hewn rhyme he’s rejected by puffins and bald eagles, checks out sparrows and even moose, and finally spots a raven—much larger than he but otherwise similar: “Well, if he looks like me, / then my looks must be / like the bird with a similar style!” Here text and pictures part company as Bartholomew flies over a lake and recognizes himself as a crow by seeing his reflection “with the look of a rook in his eye,” while in the accompanying picture and subsequent ones it seems to be an unmentioned flock of fellow crows that provides the key to his avian type. Arnim sends another mixed message by showing puffins and eagles snatching up fish in some scenes, while in others predators and prey animals coexist “peaceable kingdom” style. No matter: the plotline’s so muddled that such contradictions will likely go unnoticed.
Nothing to crow over here. (discussion questions, suggested enrichment activities) (Picture book. 6-8)