What the Raven Saw
I rarely review on this blog. However, today I want to do a little rave about a children’s book I’ve just read. Now, before you ‘I-only-read-grownup-fiction’ people switch off, I beg you to read to the end. You never know; you might be so intrigued you’ll get yourself a copy of this one. In fact, give Children’s Lit a go. Think of some of the great movies that have come out of Children’s and Youth Lit: Narnia, Harry Potter, Twilight, The Goonies…
As a reviewer, I read a lot of children’s and YA books and, believe me, I’m a hard marker. There are the occasional duds. For those I usually spend a few weepy moments wondering how and why they got into print when I’m still trying to get mine picked up. There are a plethora of good, enjoyable, that-was-nice books. They’ve got a solid plot. The characters are engaging. There’s a bit of adventure; a bit of humour. They’re worth passing on to the neighbours’ kids. Then there are the “Flipping-heck-that’s-brilliant!” books. This is one of those.
Samantha-Ellen Bound, What the Raven Saw, Woolshed Press. She’s an Aussie author and I think it’s her first book. HER FIRST BOOK!
(That strange sound you hear is me grinding my teeth in frustration.)
My only complaint about the book is that the title doesn’t do it justice. It makes it sound like a three year old’s picture book. It’s not. It’s a magical, intriguing, quirky, extraordinary story. It has crime, romance, philosophy, humour, sarcasm and a touch of the mystical. The hero is a raven, with an over-developed sense of self-importance that hides deep abandonment issues. His serenity is disturbed by the ghost of a young boy; the boy’s very much alive and very stroppy sister; a love-sick scarecrow; a pesky pigeon, and a man up a tree. Raven’s best friend is the parish priest. The two sing duets together when the church is empty. Every chapter title is the title of an old hymn or Gospel song. (Ain’t she clever!)
The writing is so beautiful, so gob-smacking brilliant it makes me moan. Here’s a little bit to whet your appetite.
“The raven was sitting up in the church eaves, listening to the church choir… That was human’s single redeeming factor – they sure knew how to sing. Every time they opened their mouths, the raven found himself having horrible sentimental thoughts… He felt like he did the first time, as a very young bird, he’d poked his head out of the nest and seen the day wake up and break through the branches and the foliage of the trees. Or when he’d seen an enormous sea eagle, far from home, resting on top of an old stone cross. When it had launched itself into space the sky had seemed to tear itself apart.” pg 30/31
Ms Bound, I dips me lid to ya. You should be up for a number of awards in the coming year. If you’re not, I’ll be more than surprised; I’ll be outraged.
(DANG! Why didn’t I get the idea first?!!!)