Crow grabs a piece of bread for his dinner. But Fox is hungry, too, and has a plan to get the meal for herself! The Fox and the Crow is a adaptation of Aesop’s fable. The message of the original fable was “don’t trust flatterers.” This interpretation is less concerned with imparting any kind of moral lesson, and revels instead in retelling the story in a new and exciting way.
The pages in the book are large, and every page has a lavish illustration, often stretching across both pages, and sometimes using a portrait layout. This invites the child to interact with the material in their hand, turning the book on its side to get a bottom-to-top view of, for example, a fox crouching cunningly at the base of a tree. The artwork is gorgeous, with a strong palate of browns and reds that captures the same rustic beauty that a traditional log fire has. Of course, red and black classically go together, and illustrator Culpeo S. Fox doesn’t waste any opportunity to use layouts that frame Crow’s onyx feathers against Fox’s sunset fur.
The writing is intelligent, too. Its language suggests, rather than tells, the story, which is important, because it draws children to observe the art and engage with it, coming to their own conclusions about what’s happening. This encourages critical thinking at a young age. Adults can fall in love with the language, too. Phrases such as “his stomach burns with swallowed song” and “bread is best eaten by twilight” ring with a fairy tale’s promise of deeper meaning, lurking just beneath the surface of the words.
The only problem with the book is its construction. It’s not quite hardback, more of a flexible alternative, which feels a little flimsy in comparison. The front page is glued to this cover a little sloppily, with glue seeping out of the edges of the page, and sticky to the touch. It’s a wrapping not worthy for the product it covers. With beautiful artwork, intelligent phraseology, and a versatile layout, The Fox and the Crow invites children to fall in love with a book as a sensory object, and is a good choice for any parent hoping to foster an interest in reading in their child.
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