Jayanne and the Students of South Whidbey Middle School’s Top 5 Books to Crow About

This week Jayanne from our Freeland Library has teamed up with a class from South Whidbey Middle School to bring you a Top 3 list so bodacious that it simply had to be a Top 5 list! Take it away, Jayanne & Co.!

“I’ve been seeing crows at the library and not just the ones that Jamie and Kaley have been feeding. Humans are pattern-seeking creatures, but still, I am always amused by the odd trends that seem to fall in clumps across my path (blobfish, narwhals, books with feathers on the cover). This time the crows were pointed out to me while I was book talking with a class at South Whidbey Middle School. We started brainstorming books with crows. Here is the quick list we came up with (and we didn’t even start on ravens):

I like bird names .. Robin, Wren, Lark, Paloma, Hawk, Crane, and I’ve known a couple of Birdies, but I’ve only ever met a ‘Crow’ in a book. I think the name conjures up the image of someone who is scrappy and clever and that is certainly true of the characters in these two tales.

Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend and Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk both feature characters named Crow. Both are cursed, isolated, and destined to die young (Morrigan because she was born on Eventide; Crow because she was probably born on a leper colony). Both are rescued by a strangers; both are trying to figure out where they belong. However that is pretty much where the resemblance ends. Nevermoor is the beginning of a magic-filled fantasy series while Beyond the Bright Sea combines historical fiction, mystery, and a search for family. I listened to the audiobooks for both of these titles and I couldn’t help but root for these girls as they were struggling to find the truth.

In Wildwood by Colin Meloy, Prue must venture into a magical forest to save her baby brother who was kidnapped by a ‘murder of crows.’ She ends up traveling into the Impassable Wilderness, being tagged after by a kid from her class. So yes, there are talking animals, but they are not cute, or fluffy, or ‘Disneyesque’ in the slightest. The fact that they live in a forest on the edge of Portland appeals to my deepest wish that someday I will turn down the right side-street and find a bit of fantasy.

Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce

So, while the crows of Wildwood are villainous, the crows in Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce are far more helpful. Ali, daughter of a famous knight and the kingdom’s spymaster, runs away from home and into trouble as she tries to find her own destiny. I have read everything by Tamora Pierce and you can read this book without reading the Alanna (Song of the Lioness series) and Immortal series, but WHY? Nawat, one of my favorite of Pierce’s characters, is a crow who can change into a man and does so to assist Ali. In most shape-shifting storylines, a human transforms into an animal not the other way around. Watching Nawat try to understand human behavior is amusing and illuminating.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is a fast-actioned heist novel set in a fantasy world, or, as one person described it to me, ‘Ocean’s 11 with magic.’ If that is the case, Kaz Dekker, master thief (who always wears black gloves and carries a cane with a crow’s head) is definitely Danny Ocean. While I am always up for a good heist (fictionally that is), what I really enjoyed was the complex world that they moved around in. This is great, because apparently it is part of the same world as her Grisha series, which I now need to go read (along with Crooked Kingdom, the sequel to Six of Crows).

All of these fictitious crows that populate our shelves match the tricky, clever, scavenging birds that populate our streets. Let me know, what books did we miss?”

Awesome list, Jayanne and South Whidbey Middle Schoolers!

Stay tuned next week when Alisa will give us her top 3 music albums right now!

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