Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) is the author of the classic novels Island, Eyeless in Gaza, and The Genius and the Goddess, as well as such critically acclaimed nonfiction works as The Devils of Loudun, The Doors of Perception, and The Perennial Philosophy. Born in Surrey, England, and educated at Oxford, he died in Los Angeles.
Since my earliest memories (app. ages 3 and 4) I have loved and treasured this book. Even before I could read, the animal characters within were well-beloved friends of mine, simply through the pictures. I was thrilled when my parents would read it to me, and when I learned to read myself I was proud to be able to get through it on my own. It was only much later, when I actually knew who Huxley was and realized he was the author of one of my favorite early childhood books, that I learned to love it for its historic context as well.This book comes from an interesting background. Others have already commented on the time period Huxley wrote it in--during the second World War. It is his only children's book and he wrote it not for publication but for Olivia, the young daughter of his nextdoor neighbors (human characters who are actually referred to by name in the course of the book, further personalizing this effort of Huxley's.) There were only two copies, Huxley's and the one belonging to these neighbors. The first was destroyed in a fire that broke out in the Huxley home. The second was published following his death.While I recognize the problem a previous reader had with this book, I must respectfully disagree. That "The Crows of Pearblossom" has a certain morbidity is in fact partly the point. Looking back on most successful children's stories, we see that they often have elements of the violent or morbid, since the first time the Big Bad Wolf ate Little Red Riding Hood and beyond. That children be acquainted by these means with some of the more unpleasant aspects of life is important.Read more ›
This is my three year old daughter's favorite book. She doesn't know that it was supposedly written as a allegory to World War II. She just likes the characters in the story. My wife and I get a kick out of it because it is just like life. "Why don't you go down into the snake's hole and kill him" (That's my job!) But I reply, "Somehow I don't think that's a good idea," and so the story goes. Jordan likes this book so I'm not going to write in a lot of psycho-babble. Maybe she sees a problem within a family that has to be solved. And it is! Maybe she sees a threat to a family that the parents must solve. And they do! Perhaps she just doesn't like snakes and feels he got what he deserves. If you have this book, it is a classic in the true sense of the word, to be treasured.
Quite apart from the dire, apocalyptic tone of Brave New World, Mr. and Mrs. Crow live in an idyllic world on the Mojave Desert of Southern California. Their domestic problem is an allegory for many of the problems we face in the adult world. I grew up in a small town just west of Pearblossom. When I was 8 or 9, a copy of the book was given to me by a close relative of Olivia's who still lived in Pearblossom. I will always thank Rose de Haulleville for giving me my first exposure to Huxley's writing. Of course it was many more years before I appreciated books like Brave New World or Antic Hay, however I have always remembered the crows in their nest in Pearblossom as my own form of non-pharmaceutical soma ;-)
This book was handed in as a donation for a book drive. I threw it away. No child should read trash like this, and here's why: Mr. Crow is a jerk who treats his wife like trash. He finds her in distress and asks her if she's forgotten not to eat too much, y'know, like a child that's had too much ice cream. When she has a good idea, he tells her it's a bad idea, then goes to his buddy's house to see how he can use his wife's idea and claim it as his own, but not before telling her to shut up about it. Twice.
Here's a play-by-play of the mean, sexist nonsense that runs through the whole book:
Mrs. Crow lays an egg every day, then goes to the store (she doesn't have a job) while her husband, Mr. Crow, goes to work as an assistant manager at a drug store.
WHY THE WEIRD DETAIL ABOUT HIS JOB? Good question. It never comes up again.
Whenever Mrs. Crow gets back from the store, the egg is gone. Turns out a rattlesnake has been eating her eggs every day for the past year while she's out. She discovers him doing this one day, and is in tears when Mr. Crow comes home. The first thing he says when he sees his wife in tears is, "What's wrong, did you over-eat?"
WHY WOULD HE SAY THAT? Good question. If you think he sounds like a jerk, you're right. Mr. Crow is a jerk.
Mrs. Crow explains that the snake has literally eaten hundreds of her eggs, killing all of their babies and making all the effort of laying all those eggs worthless. "Kill the snake," she says. Mr. Crow's response: "You don't have good ideas," and "Shut your beak."
WHY WOULD HE SAY THAT? Good question. If you're starting to think Mr. Crow is a wife-hating crazypants, you're probably right.