Saturday, November 19, 2016

Review: Lila and the Crow by Gabrielle Grimard

Lila has just moved to a new town and can't wait to make friends at school. But on the first day, a boy points at her and shouts: “A crow! A crow! The new girl's hair is black like a crow!” The others whisper and laugh, and Lila's heart grows as heavy as a stone.

The next day, Lila covers her hair. But this time, the boy points at her dark skin. When she covers her face, he mocks her dark eyes. Now every day at school, Lila hides under her turtleneck, dark glasses, and hat. And every day when she goes home, she sees a crow who seems to want to tell her something. Lila ignores the bird and even throws rocks at it, but it won't go away.

Meanwhile, the great autumn festival is approaching. While the other kids prepare their costumes, Lila is sadder and lonelier than ever. At her lowest point of despair, a magical encounter with the crow opens Lila's eyes to the beauty of being different, and gives her the courage to proudly embrace her true self.

Rating: 4 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book is, on the surface, a rather nice one about learning to accept the things about yourself that make you different regardless of what anyone else says. It's when I began to think about it a little further that I got a bit sad for Lila.

Lila is a new student at school. She's fairly young, but not so young that she doesn't run into bullies. One in particular makes her so ashamed of the way that she looks that she comes to school each day hiding another facet of herself: her hair, her eyes, her skin. To be taken down that harshly so quickly is sad.

She does eventually learn to love herself in spite of this bully's cruel words with the help of a crow that lives nearby and refuses to leave her alone, even when she's at her lowest.

What made me sad thinking back on this story was that while yes, it is a good story about learning to love yourself, no human helps Lila. No teacher or adult notices what she goes through. The bully probably won't change in the end, though at the school's festival he doesn't say anything about her fantastic crow costume. It's a reflective story of what often happens to children that get bullied. A lot of adults don't  notice and while some, like Lila, might be able to find their way, a lot won't. It's important to keep an eye out and notice things. You just don't know what will happen if you don't.

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