Book review: The Crows of Pearblossom, by Aldous Huxley, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Huxley, Aldous. The Crows of Pearblossom. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2011. $17.95. ISBN 9780810997301. Unp. Ages. P7Q7

huxley-crows-of-pearblossomThe Crows of Pearblossom is Aldous Huxley’s only publication written for children. The story is based on the African folktale Black Snake and the Eggs in which a hen’s eggs mysteriously disappear day after day. In Huxley’s version of the folktale, the animals are swapped for species more familiar to the American west—a rattlesnake and crows. Huxley expands on the short folktale to include other characters, including his niece and nephew, whose names are mentioned without context. He also built upon the unfortunate characterization of the female bird. None of the birds are particularly likable, but Mrs. Crow is portrayed as an insufferable nag and only slightly more palatable than Mr. Crow. Perhaps readers should empathize with the snake—he was merely preventing the propagation of two miserable birds. It is evident that the story was written in 1944, and not necessarily with the goal of being published. Blackall’s textured watercolors are more nuanced than Huxley’s story. Apart from the illustrations, there is little in the story that would interest a small child. It will be most appreciated as a divergent addition to a collection of  Huxley’s work by adult fans.

November 2016 review by Lillian Curanzy.

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