Top positive review
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In the tradition of some of the best fiction
on May 24, 2001
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 It is his only children's book and he wrote it not for publication but for Olivia, the young daughter of his nextdoor neighbors (human characters who are actually referred to by name in the course of the book, further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. If they don't encounter them through a relatively harmless and provocative medium like a bed-time story, they can only become acquainted with them through other means, frequently personal experience, which can be infinitely more detrimental to the child than a story like Huxley's "Crows." Children need to be prepared to deal with life, and a story like this can provide a means for doing so.
All of this aside, "The Crows" also presents interesting and likeable animal characters, with the exception of the snake, (though as a child I actually rather got a kick out of him and the little song he sings) and is not without its humorous points. The idea of an owl shaving, for example, still makes me chuckle. The story itself teaches an important lesson about how not to accept an unacceptable situation, and how to use personal ingenuity and intelligence against brute strength, in an easily understood format. It also embraces a certain lighter-hearted, more fanciful spirit than readers of "Brave New World" may have known Huxley could posess.