Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Crow-Girl by Bodil Bredsdorff

We have a small collection of books in our library reserved for our senior students in Grades 5 and 6 and this is where we will put The Crow-Girl.  This is a breathtaking story but it does contain strong themes and would be best suited to a very mature reader.  It is also quite a slim book which might be lost on our regular shelves so I want to be sure it reaches my keen readers.

The Crow-Girl herself is an amazing character.  She demonstrates such important traits - resilience, love, clear thinking, creativity and bravery.

The Crow-Girl lives in a remote place close to the sea.  Her only companion is her precious Grandmother. Before she dies the old woman offers some important advice about the people the young girl may meet on her journey away from their cove.

"There are those that make you feel inside as if you are drinking a good, warm soup - even if you are hungry and the two of you have nothing to eat.  In spite of that they nourish you.  And then there are those who cause you to freeze inside, even if you are sitting before a roaring fire and have eaten your fill.  Those you should keep away from."

The Crow-Girl has no name at first.  Her grandmother called her chick.  The first person she encounters on her journey supplies this name but this is not done kindly.  The girl works hard for this woman and her husband but then she hears them plotting against her.  She stealthily leaves in the night taking back her grandmother's shawl which the woman has 'stolen' and also taking a small supply of food.

Her next meeting is with a boy and his father.  This man is deeply grieving the loss of his wife and be has become violent. He offers the young boy to the Crow-Girl and the two flee this place of destruction.  As their journey continues the meet a young woman and her daughter and then a kindly sheep farmer.  With each meeting and each person who joins her, the Crow-Girl moves closer to her rightful place in the world.

You can read here a speech by the author where she explains in detail the inspiration for her book.

The Crow-Girl was originally written in Danish. I have talked before about how much I enjoy books that have been translated - especially books from Scandinavia.  This book also feels like a folk tale because despite adversity justice prevails.

"Luminous and uncluttered...With resonate concrete images and without sentimentality, Bredsdorff tells a harshly beautiful story that charts the characters' progress toward interdependence." --Starred, The Horn Book

There are two more books in this series - Eidi and Alek.  Each follows a character from The Crow-Girl.

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