Monday, June 1, 2015

Crow Call 
by Lois Lowry
Illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

In her first picture book,Newbery award winning author, Lois Lowry, writes a tender personal narrative of a special morning for a daughter and father after the father returns from the war.  She delicately reveals their developing, warm relationship as they become reacquainted.

This story is based on Lowry’s own experience with her father. You can tell.  The writing is so intimate.  This is a superb mentor text for personal narrative, character development, and elaboration.

Book Talk
Liz gets out of bed early in the morning. She has special plans to go out to the fields with her father.  Her father has just returned from the war.  She has grown a lot since he has last seen her and she is shy and timid to show him who she has become.

A favorite line from this part of the story: "I practice his name to myself, whispering it under by breath. Daddy. Daddy. Saying it feels new. The war has lasted so long. He has been gone so long. Finally  I look over at him timidly and speak aloud.”

Liz does start talking to her father and reveals to him that she has never gone hunting before.  He acknowledges this and tells her that he has a special job for her: the crow caller.  He tells her what a special job it is and only talented people can do it.  He also tells her that  “having that shirt will help.”  Dad is referring to a large flannel shirt that Liz is wearing.

Lowry’s writing flashes back to when Liz is younger, before the war. Liz and Dad go into the local department store and they buy Liz a men’s flannel hunting shirt.  

Lowry then brings readers back to the present, Liz (wearing the flannel shirt) and Dad stop for breakfast and order cherry pie. They then set out to the hills to hunt for crow.  Their conversation gets easier for Liz.  Dad always has a tender and just right answer for her. They discuss the crows and how they are eating and ruining the crops. Even though Liz understands that the crows are a nuisance, she is uncomfortable with hunting them and shooting them, which is Dad's purpose for going to the hills.

Liz finds the nerve to ask Daddy about the war. His answers are simple and honest and satisfy her curiosity. They practice calling for crows.  Then they get silly together trying to call other animals: tigers, bears and giraffes.  Dad’s imitation of a giraffe noise is hilarious and they two share a big laugh.

They walk farther into the hills and Liz finally calls the crows.  They all come.  Liz has fun calling the birds and seemingly talking back and forth with them, yet realizes this is what will make it easy for Dad to shoot them.

But he doesn’t shoot them.  She understands that the crows will always ruin the crops and some other hunter may shoot them, but today it is not her Dad.  She is happy and satisfied with the special morning.

Another favorite line from the end of the story: “I blow the crow call once more, to say good morning and good-bye and everything that goes in between. Then I put it into the pocket of my shirt and reach over, out of my enormous cuff, and take my father’s hand.”

The very last page shows a photo of Lowry as a girl wearing the large men's flannel hunting shirt.

Suggested Uses as a Mentor Text:
Book Genre: Realistic Fiction/ personal narrative
Reading Workshop strategies: Connecting, Inferring, Synthesizing, Character Development
Writing Workshop genre/ strategies: Personal narrative, Elaboration, Character Development, Strong Ending

No comments:

Post a Comment