From Publishers Weekly:
Books about humans observing animals are common; this book turns the tables, imagining crows watching us. “Meanwhile, you don’t have a clue:/ We’ve got our bird’s eye trained on you,” writes Keenan (Greetings from the 50 States) as a crow is shown taking food out of a dog’s bowl right in front of the dog—it’s leashed, the clever bird knows. First-time illustrator Duggan’s images mix static calm with dynamism, tranquil cityscapes with speeding cars. His portraits of crows and their antics are faithful and careful, and he makes especially effective use of panels to convey sequences of events. It’s more of a naturalist’s journal than a nonfiction reference—the scenes were inspired by crow behavior the husband-and-wife team witnessed firsthand. One series of panels shows a crow in flight carrying, dropping, and recapturing a plastic straw, attesting to the birds’ startling capacity for play: “Garbage that you leave behind/ is just the game we had in mind.” Readers should look more closely at crows after they read Keenan and Duggan’s book, but not before lingering over the illustrations. Ages 4–6. (Sept.)
From School Library Journal:
Keenan and Duggan have created a dandy introduction to the raucous birds. Speaking in short, rhyming couplets, the avian narrator walks readers through an urban neighborhood as it explains how crows steal food, mess up car windows, and keep warm by flying through the city calling loudly during daylight hours, then roosting together in leafless trees on cold fall and winter nights. “And when you’ve finally/noticed we’re here/darkness falls/...and we disappear!” Soft realistic colored-pencil drawings flow smoothly from page to page, closely following the narrator’s observations, sometimes showing a two-page panorama–often splitting it into four or six segments, offering glimpses of a scene from various angles, or a number of scenes across the spread. On some pages, a large central illustration adjoins a narrow segment on each side, with the narrator occasionally peeking in. An author’s/illustrator’s note reminds children that “Crows are great adaptors… and are among the smartest animals in the world.” This lovely example of picture-book design–a beautiful meld of text and illustrations–deserves a place on both school and public library shelves.
Rhyming couplets celebrate the abilities and ubiquity of crows and the noisy crowds of a city winter roost.
Observations of crows in Troy, N.Y., contributed to this story and pictures by a husband-and-wife team. In the first half of the narrative, Keenan describes individual crow behavior: stealing food from pigeons, dogs, and people; splatting on windshields; tracking dirt on clean laundry. In the second, she observes them in large winter groups: cavorting in the air and perching in large numbers. “We cause such / a mighty ruckus, / there’s no chance / you’ll overlook us.” The rhymes work, but the regular iambic beat may make this difficult to read aloud without sounding singsong. This is the first picture book for Duggan, an experienced nature painter. His realistic illustrations, which look like pastels and pencil, vary in size and perspective. Readers see crows close-up on the ground, in the air and, from above, flying high over the city across the double-page spread. Panels in series show a crow waiting for the green light to cross and peck at roadkill. In one particularly effective illustration, a close-up crow pokes his beak around a panel frame. “We’ve got our bird’s eye trained on you.”
A helpful addition to the nature shelf, especially for its uncommon focus on urban birds.
"This could be useful as an introduction to a nature study lesson or as a poetic part of a bird-themed story session."