A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that in addition to the path the heroine takes, there's another path to follow here -- the ways in which her grandmother's dying advice plays out in her life.
What's the story?
A child grows up with only her grandmother in an isolated cottage in a cove on the pre-industrial Danish coast. Knowing she is dying, her grandmother teaches the girl both wisdom and survival skills. When the grandmother dies, the girl buries her, then sets out along the coast, led by a pair of crows, to find a place to belong.
Along the way she is taken in by a greedy woman, who calls her Crow Girl, and from whom she eventually escapes. She meets a man gone mad with grief for his dead wife who gives her his toddler boy to care for, a mother and daughter escaping from an abusive husband, and a lonely shepherd. Together all of these damaged souls return with her to her cove to begin new lives.
Is it any good?
This lovely, bleakly poignant translation from Danish was a Batchelder Honor book for 2004. It's an atmospheric piece, timeless, quiet, and somewhat melancholy, but warmhearted and hopeful. Though the heroine has a very rough time, but the story is told with the matter-of-factness of a fairy tale and so avoids being a tearjerker. Like a fairy tale too it has just the slightest hint of magic and mystery.
It won't be to every child's taste: With its lack of action it will seem slow to some. But those who are intrigued by the details of life in a place and time far removed from our own will find much to enjoy. And those empathetic young souls, whose hearts will go out to Crow Girl and yearn for her to find her place, will love the deeply satisfying ending.