Nature Picture Books:: As The Crow Flies

All day long you’re on the go, you don’t have time to watch a crow…

So begins one of my favorite picture books, As the Crow Flies, by Sheila Keenan and illustrated by Kevin Duggan. Crows are one of my favorite birds, they are fascinating and beautiful to watch. We are lucky to have a couple of sizable crow roosts here in the Seattle area. We’ve been to watch them roost a couple of times and our house is right along one of their nightly roost routes. Needless to say, I was thrilled when we chanced upon this book at our local library. After renewing it the maximum number of times, I had to purchase it because we loved reading it so much.

This book perfectly captures not only the wonderful, and amazing variety of crow behavior, but our own attitudes to them as well. Crows are undoubtedly ubiquitous, so much so that most of us tend to tune them out, discounting them as background noise. This book recognizes that and aims to steer our attention to the many interesting things they do right alongside us every day, like playing in the wind, and shows how interesting they are if we take the time to simply stop and look.

Thousands of our corvid kin are flying to the roost again…

The spectacle of the massive number of crows heading to roost is where the book ultimately heads after exploring their daily behavior. The art featuring streams of crows in the sky, over the city, fields and the river is simply beautiful. The crows are represented wonderfully in a perfect mix of words and illustration. To anyone who has watched crows and seen a crow roost, it’s obvious the author and illustrator have witnessed and appreciated this magnificent display. It’s satisfying to see something I hold so near and dear represented so very well.

You never noticed us before, but now we’re many hundreds more…

It’s a fun book to read with rhyming couplets and some amusing wordplay (“now hear this cawcophony”). The book is also beautiful to look at, I particularly love the art of the last few pages. Crows are treated with much respect and awe in this book, hopefully inspiring others to appreciate these wonderful birds. We’ve read this book so many times I can now recite it from memory, it’s a book that certainly gathers no dust on our shelves.

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Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner is a naturalist, writer and photographer based in Seattle. She is the author of a book about urban nature, coming Spring 2020 from Mountaineers Books. She writes freelance articles about natural history and has bylines in Crosscut, ParentMap, National Wildlife Magazine and others. On the side she writes fiction.

Kelly holds a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon and a certificate in non-fiction writing from the University of Washington.

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