Oct 3, 2013

Blacky the Crow

by Thornton W. Burgess

This little book is about some things that happen to Blacky, a crow in Burgess's community of talking wildlife. There are some daily doings of Blacky as he moves about searching for food, pestering his neighbors, rousing up his flock to mob larger birds of prey, acting with great curiosity and caution when he finds new things, and other typical crow behavior.

There are three storylines, and they don't quite fit together well. The first story tells how Blacky discovers that the owls have set up housekeeping very early in the spring, and he tries to find a way to steal the owls' eggs to eat. Unable to get them by himself, he enlists the (unknowing) help first of his fellow crows, then of the farmer's boy. Neither plan succeeds, and Blacky is frustrated that the boys' recent change of heart (which I still have yet to pinpoint in the chronology of these little books) causes him to relent at the last moment and put back the owl eggs, instead of keeping them for his collection.

Then the timeline suddenly jumps to fall and we have a new storyline about Blacky getting involved with two different groups of ducks, warning them from the threat of hunters. The second little duck flock doesn't listen and further concerned, Blacky tries to get rid of the hunter himself but fails. So he alerts the farmer's boy to the hunter's presence and then watches to see what the boy will do. This kid has a very strong moral sense; because the hunter is on public land and has a right to be there, the boy doesn't feel like he can rightfully tear down the hunter's blind. He finds another way to spoil the man's hunting and save the ducks.

The final story is again about eggs. Blacky spies two eggs in a hen's nest just inside the door of the henhouse and is tempted to steal them, although normally he would not dare approach so close. He is greedy and takes the larger of the two eggs, and then finds out later to his anger and dismay that he has been duped. I chuckled at this story. Blacky stole a fake egg which was put there to coax the hen to lay. The crow realizes his mistake and after being thoroughly upset, he then treasures the egg as a pretty object, part of his collection of shiny things.

Well. I did like these stories. They are a bit repititious and stuffed with moral lessons as usual for Burgess, but I don't mind. I did find the arrangment odd, that the storyline suddenly jumped from early spring into fall, but that's a small matter too.

Rating: 3/5 ......... 80 pages, 1920

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