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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the tradition of some of the best fiction
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...
Published on May 24, 2001 by S. B Lauderdale

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beware of the Content of the Story
This is such an odd review. I have before me a children's book that I enjoy for the pictures but I can't recommend it for young kids. My version of THE CROWS OF PEARBLOSSOM is the 1967 copyright hardback with Barbara Cooney as the illustrator. The pictures are done in shades of black, white, gray and green. They are pleasant to look at. I would recommend this older...
Published on August 28, 2011 by L. B. Taylor


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40 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In the tradition of some of the best fiction, May 24, 2001
By 
This review is from: Crows of Pearblossom (Hardcover)
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 It is his only children's book and he wrote it not for publication but for Olivia, the young daughter of his nextdoor neighbors (human characters who are actually referred to by name in the course of the book, further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.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Amelia, You talk too much", January 7, 2002
By 
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.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Soma for the hard times ;-), February 27, 2000
This review is from: Crows of Pearblossom (Hardcover)
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 ;-)
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A charming tale for children, with marvelous illustrations., December 10, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Crows of Pearblossom (Hardcover)
Mr. and Mrs. Crow are having difficulty raising a family as their neighbor, the rattlesnake, keeps stealing every egg Mrs. Crow lays. How Mr. Crow and his friend, Mr. Owl, solve the problem will delight any child. The story, written by a classic author best known for his science fiction/political commentary, is reminiscent of a fable in the tradition of Aesop. It is simply and elegantly written for children in the 6 to 9 age group. It lends itself beautifully to reading aloud to a child.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beware of the Content of the Story, August 28, 2011
This is such an odd review. I have before me a children's book that I enjoy for the pictures but I can't recommend it for young kids. My version of THE CROWS OF PEARBLOSSOM is the 1967 copyright hardback with Barbara Cooney as the illustrator. The pictures are done in shades of black, white, gray and green. They are pleasant to look at. I would recommend this older version to any mixed media artists who need motivation with nature.

THE CROWS OF PEARBLOSSOM is the only children's story ever written by Aldous Huxley, the famous English novelist, essayist and critic. He wrote it for his five-year-old niece, Olivia, during a Christmas holiday in 1944. Her brother Siggy is mentioned in the story, too. In some ways the story reminds me of a fable from long ago. The story is meant to teach you a lesson. As an adult I can appreciate his writing but IMHO he is not a children's author. There is a reason he did not write other stories for children.

The mother crow's eggs have been eaten daily by a snake for a long time. When she approaches her husband about the situation and insinuates that he may be scared of going up against the snake he responds "your ideas are seldom good...I shall go and talk to my friend Owl....his ideas are always good." When Mr. Crow and Owl return to the upset Mrs. Crow the husband responds, "you talk too much. Keep your beak shut and get out of your nest". Somehow I just don't think this is something I would want young children to read. Mrs. Crow comes across as whiney and stupid. Owl is the brains and yet he and Mr. Crow are not mentioned after the fake eggs are put in the nest. There is nothing written to show children that the Owl and Mr. and Mrs. Crow can have a HEA. I know, I know, I am putting too much thought into this but there are so many better books out there for children to read. If you are looking for good childrens' entertainment try something else.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a childhood memory, October 2, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Crows of Pearblossom (Hardcover)
i acquired this book as a child and my father read it to me and my brother over and over again. now my brother has a child and i have given this beautiful story book to him. this is the only childrens book aldous huxley ever wrote and he wrote it for a child, i believe her name was olivia, that he cared for very deeply, not having children of his own. it is a story of love, family and the trials and tribulations of life. how to conquer evil with good. i recieved this book through weelky reader as a child, too bad more children don't have that opportunity today.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Fable, Well-Written, & Beautifully Illustrated, June 7, 2010
By 
goonius (a room in a house on a street in a city just like any other.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Crows of Pearblossom (Hardcover)
Until recently I had no idea Huxley had authored a children's book. But when I stumbled onto a listing for it, I knew I had to have it. I found an old 70's Weekly Reader copy with the original Barbara Cooney illustrations, which are exquisite, memorable, and remind me in a nostalgic sort of way of the black and white illustrations of Garth Williams in the Tall Book of Make Believe, my all-time favorite children's book.

The story is a well-written, fun-to-read fable. In some reviews it's judged as being harsh and gruesome, and if you're the sort who is liable to find older (pre-70's) children's literature and the themes within to be disagreeable, this one will likely disturb. There are a lot of really 'safe' books out there, and this one - no - does not fall into that category.

The story is that of a crow couple, the wife of whom has been losing her newly laid eggs and one day stumbles onto the smug culprit in the act. She is devastated, and there is a little tiff between husband and wife when he arrives home that I, personally, found to be rather amusing. Mr. Crow resolves to fix this problem by consulting with his wiser friend and neighbor - the owl. And while I agree with another reviewer that there are sexist overtones to the story, the owl treats both Mr. and Mrs. Crow as hysterical, so it's not so neatly in that camp as I had feared having read that review previous to purchasing. In any case, the owl's plan to replace Mrs. Crow's eggs with hard-baked clay look-alikes works marvelously, and when Mrs. Crow returns home the following day, the snake, having devoured the eggs rather grossly (he has no manners, we are told - and this does give him an odd sort of appeal), has developed a bellyache and thrashed about so that he has tied each of his ends to opposite branches of the tree. The Crow family takes advantage of the snake's well-deserved misfortune and uses him as a clothesline and go on to bear many children now that the threat has been eliminated.

Is that morbid? Oh, I suppose. It's also a bit amusing and repulsive and odd enough to be memorable. It's not scary. If you want to scare the wits out of a kid, get Galdone's version of Tailypo. That gives me the creeps and I'm an adult. It's the only book I've ever vanquished to a high shelf for later. Much later.

The Crows of Pearblossom isn't scary. It's a fable with a bad guy who meets a bad end. There's really something that's just solid about the whole tale. It works, it's likable, Huxley's chosen words and phrases and various scenes carefully, and the accompanying illustrations for each carry the story along beautifully.

Personally, I'd snap up a copy of this before Disney discovers it and has the whole lot of 'em singing and dancing and becoming fast friends and learning to share in the end, with the snake loaning himself out as a clothesline willingly, encouraging the book police to begin a chant that the original should be gentrified to contain values relevant to our modern society. Just what are those values anyway?
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good fable, but sexist, April 18, 2009
By 
Book Queen "Book Queen" (Olympic Peninsula, WA USA) - See all my reviews
This is an Aesop-type fable about crows and owls outwitting snakes, but it's rather gruesome, and sexist to boot--mother crow is made out to be a hysterical fool. The male crow and owl solve the problem of snakes eating crow eggs.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book but unfortunately sexist and creepy, March 11, 2013
By 
This review is from: The Crows of Pearblossom (Hardcover)
I bought this for my daughter and she loves it--the illustrations are *beautiful*--but unfortunately I have to heavily edit the reading of it. I'm kind of stunned that whoever published it didn't notice or care how sexist the story is. It's also morbid and a little scary, as other reviewers have noted, but that seems more like a personal choice for each family than something that just shouldn't have seen the light of day. The Mrs. Crow character is a stereotypical nagging, foolish woman from another time, not suited to modern readers. In addition to the language that the other reviewers have noted about Mr. Crow telling Mrs. Crow to "shut your beak" and that her ideas are never good, he also accuses her of overeating, and in another spot tells her "you talk too much. Keep your beak shut and get out of your nest." And then in the last frame when the snake is finally subdued, she gives him "a very long lecture."

Abrams and Sophie Blackall should be ashamed of themselves cashing in on Huxley's name to put out a story that, while charming, is just not OK to read to kids anymore.
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16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mean, sexist nonsense, April 10, 2013
By 
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.

Then he goes to talk to Mr. Owl, who comes up with a plan to replace the real eggs with fake eggs, thereby killing the snake.

WASN'T THAT MRS. CROW'S IDEA LIKE THREE PAGES AGO? Yes. Yes it was. What is this guy's problem? Oh right, he's a jerk.

So the male birds fly back to the nest to find Mrs. Crow in bed reading NEST magazine with pink curlers in her hair.

WHY THE WEIRD DETAIL ABOUT CURLERS AND MAGAZINES? Because that's what all women do before bedtime, duh.

She "screams" at them to go kill the snake, which they refuse to do, knowing full well that that's what they fully intend to do.

WHY IS SHE SCREAMING? Because that's what all women do, duh.

They leave the fake eggs at home while Mrs. Crow goes to the store (because she still has no job). The snake eats the fake eggs and is incapacitated when Mrs. Crow gets home, at which point she gives him a very long lecture about eating other people's eggs before he dies. She then has a jillion baby crows and inexplicably uses the snake's corpse as a clothesline for all the clothes they don't wear.

So let's recap:
The only female character wears curlers to bed, reads magazines, screams at her husband, gives birth EVERY DAY, does the shopping, gives long lectures, does the laundry and cries.
The male character has a job, comes up with a plan, tells the woman to shut up, accuses the woman of overeating, tells the woman she has bad ideas, and kills the bad guy.
Yikes.

Other reviewers have complained that this book is "gruesome" because of the way animals eat each other (and the clothesline incident, which is pretty macabre). Kids are awesome weirdos who you should talk to about death and dying. They can handle it. It's not like talking to them about murder and genocide; death is inevitable and shouldn't feel like a taboo topic.
Having said that, DO NOT use this book as a jumping off point. All they'll get from this atrocity is that a woman does the shopping and FREAKS OUT when something legitimately goes wrong, but is made to feel ashamed by her emotions, and stupid for her good ideas by a man. THE END.
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The Crows of Pearblossom
The Crows of Pearblossom by Aldous Huxley (Hardcover - March 1, 2011)
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