Fuse 8 n’ Kate: Crow Boy by Taro Yashima
Usually I know at least a tiny bit about the authors/illustrators we do on this show. But Taro Yashima? I knew literally nothing about him walking into this one. You’re going to have to forgive me for saying it was a translation at the very beginning. I correct myself almost immediately, but it’s still a bit of a flub on my part. I got the idea to do this from The Rabbit hOle, who had mentioned recently that they’re working on a Crow Boy exhibit. Looking at this 1955 winner of a 1956 Caldecott Honor, it does appear that this is about a kid who has sensory overload issues and can focus on one thing for hours at a time. As such, Chibi does appear to have some form of ASD or a neurodivergent condition. Not that a book from the 50s was capable of being as clear as books today on such issues. The book was illustrated by Japanese-born Taro Yashima and represents an interesting moment in literature where the cultural stereotypes seem confined to the colors used for some of the skin tones. Is there more going on here? We discuss.
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Kate says, “I do not recommend that you read this book after you just watched a Netflix documentary series about John Wayne Gacy . . . Because, you see, he would put his victims in the crawl space . . .” GAH!!!
It looks to us like the art in this title was created almost entirely in colored pencils. Expertly so.
This is such a cool effect. When Chibi crosses his eyes in class this is precisely what he sees.
Kate points out that the fact that some of these characters are made to look yellow, and we’re not fans of that. What I’d really like to hear is a history of Asian and Asian-American representation in American children’s picture books, encompassing the wide range of artists who created books for kids in the 20th century.
These bullies? Terrifying. It’s possible that the book is doing something rather sophisticated here and displaying them from Chibi’s p.o.v. Like this is his perception.
We think it would be really fun to listen to these voices in some way. They did do an audiobook of this book, but as I’ve never heard it, I don’t know how accurate the crow sounds are.
Here is the “Vashti” related to children’s illustrator Sarah Brannen:
Extra thanks to Marie for introduced us to the FIAR (Five In a Row) program that has kept many children’s picture books in print like They Were Strong and Good. And then she included the following, which I would like to share:
If you were curious about the other eighteen FIAR titles you’ve covered, I’m listing them below:
Make Way for Ducklings (We went on vacation to Boston and visited the public gardens, and it was really fun to compare the illustrations to the park. The only difference is that the trees are larger.)
The Story About Ping (The barrel on the kid’s back was like a life preserver)
The Story of Ferdinand (probably my favorite)
Harold and the Purple Crayon (I always forget this one, we didn’t find it very memorable.)
The Tale of Peter Rabbit (I also loved this one. By the way, “fortnight” means 2 weeks)
Owl Moon (We went on an owl prowl field trip one night for this title, it was incredible.)
Miss. Rumphius (My youngest designed a butterfly garden for our backyard after reading this one).
Cranberry Thanksgiving (This gets read every year, as I now have a niece that wants to hear it on Thanksgiving. My grown children still make cranberry muffins to go along with the feast.)
Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel (This was always a favorite.)
Madeline (Both my children needed up taking French when they went to high school, coincidence?)
Blueberries for Sal (This started our annual blueberry picking trip, we made pies instead of jam).
Caps for Sale (I had forgotten about this one, we liked it, but it has better large group value.)
The Runaway Bunny (I thought Kate’s impression was hilarious, I read it in a much sweeter and more endearing tone to my children)
We’re Going On A Bear Hunt (You only need to say the title in a class to hear how many are familiar with it, they will start chanting the next line.)
The Carrot Seed (Very sweet in its simplicity. We planted carrots a few years in the garden before I decided they were too much work to dig up.)
The Snowy Day (always a favorite.)
Goodnight Moon (always a favorite.)
Corduroy (I like A Pocket for Corduroy even more)
Kate Recommends: Heather McMahan
Betsy Recommends: The Elisha Cooper piece on Literary Hub, A Quiet Reply to a Life Cut Short: After a Profound Loss, How to Honor the Dead.
Filed under: Fuse 8 n' Kate
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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