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Cats, Crows and Big Years

Book Review: Cat and Crow

I was fortunate to be invited to review a children’s book entitled Cat and Crow, written by Lisa Fleming and illustrated by Anne Marie Dominik-Harris. I received the book free of charge, but was not told what to write about it.

Of course, how could a birding columnist like myself write anything bad about a book about a cat and a crow?

The book tells the tale of a small black-and-white kitten with no “brothers or sisters to play with.” One day the kitten was knocked off a porch by a gust of wind. As the kitty was rolling across the yard, a crow covered her with outstretched wings.

From that point on, the bird and cat were best friends. They played together, and the crow shared its worms with the cat. When Cassie (the cat) was kept inside by the couple who adopted her, the crow (named Moses) would come and call for her. Everyone was amazed when this odd couple romped in the falling leaves and snow.

They were best friends.

But would they remain best friends forever, or BFF’s as they say?

Spoiler alert: stop reading below the line if you don’t want to know.
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The answer is, unfortunately, no. The unlikely pair disappeared one day after four years of cohabitation. The cat came back. The crow did not. His fate is unknown.

Besides the main story, which is illustrated in soft, muted colors, there are facts about cats and crows and pictures of the real life duo.

I recommend this book to any youngster who likes cats or crows, and anyone with an interest in sweet, beautifully illustrated children’s books. The end is sad, but it’s not like, say “Old Yeller” or “A Day No Pigs Would Die” or “The Yearling.” Let’s hope the crow is still out there, alive and well.

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I was surprised to see that a movie had been made out of a bird book (for adults) that I had read a few years ago, entitled The Big Year. A big year is a year in which someone sees approximately 700 species of bird in North America. The book, by Mark Obmascik, told the tale of three men who set out to have big years in 1998. I remember liking the book, but not loving it. There were no pictures of either the competitors or the birds, and I found two of the birders hard to distinguish from one another. None of the birders were particularly likable to me, and the book, although interesting, was a little slow. I had forgotten all about this book until I saw that it is now a movie starring Steve Martin, Owen Wilson and Jack Black.

From the casting, it sounds like Hollywood may have made some changes. For one thing, there are now two relatively young birders, as opposed to two retirees. For another, these three actors--three of my favorites--are all comedians, and the book, though light hearted, wasn’t particularly a comedy.

I hope that birds and their watchers are treated with respect, and are not mocked for being nerds or having an uncool hobby. If they are, you will read my rant right here next week.

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