A Weekly Low Down on Kids Books
Title: The Crows of Pearblossom
Author: Aldous Huxley
Illustrator: Sophie Blackall
I first bought this picture book simply because I wanted to raise my child to be literary and it was written by ALdous Huxley. Naturally, a literary child should be raised on the works of Huxley, naturally.
The first time I read it to kiddo, I remember being a little creeped out. I’m not sure why. Maybe because I had mommy hormones and it took the mother crow at least 297 missing eggs before she got upset about her lost babies. Maybe because father crow didn’t swoop down and kill the rattlesnake right away. To be honest, I have no idea, but I do know my kid must have picked up on whatever I was feeling and furrowed her little brow.
Nevertheless, we read it all the time now. It makes its emergence in the spring and summer and gets tucked back into the shelf during the fall and winter unless we’re on a bird or snake kick. It’s not that the book itself is set in any particular season, the illustrations are just sort of sunny and Owl doesn’t wear shirts, so of course it must be somewhat warm out.
I adore Sophie Blackall. I know I say this about a lot of authors and artists and people and things in general – but there just is no limit to how much a person can love and adore things. That’s the marvelous thing about love and adoration, it is limitless and unending.
Obviously, her artwork is fantastic. In addition to that, I think her ‘about the illustrator’ blurb in the dust jacket of the picture book is too adorable:
Sophie Blackall is the illustrator of Ruby’s Wish, the Ivy & Bean series, and many other picture books. Her father once arrived at a party as Aldous Huxley was leaving. They may or may not have crossed paths in the vestibule. She lives with her delightful children, an ambivalent cat, and several presumptuous squirrels in Brookly, New York.
Can someone please write something equally adorable for my author blurbs? I never seem to know what to say for them. Me – who writes endlessly and speaks just as often – has nothing to say. Not in any concise and witty manner, anyway.
Back to Huxley, he apparently wrote The Crows of Pearblossom for his niece in 1944. It wasn’t published until 1967 with Barbara Cooney as illustrator.
That edition looked like this and is now out of print:
Which means, if you see it laying around somewhere in a clearance rack or heap bin – snatch it up! It should not be cast aside. It isn’t necessarily worth a whole lot, you can find copies on abebooks.com for $2 – $10, but out of print is out of print and you never know when you might be holding the last clean copy. I like Sophie Blackall’s illustrations better, but the original work should be salvaged.