Book looks

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Lois Lowry is best-known for her novels for young readers -- thought-provoking works such as The Giver and Number the Stars.

With her newest effort, the 72-year-old author has crafted an impressive picture book.

Crow Call (Scholastic, 32 pages, $16.99, ages 7 to 10) tells a poignant story about a father and daughter getting to know each other. Based on Lowry's relationship with her dad, the story is set just after World War II, but its themes are meaningful today -- when many parents and children have been separated by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Liz rises early to accompany her father, just back from the war, into the woods to hunt the crows that are eating their crops. "I sit shyly in the front seat of the car next to the stranger who is my father," she says. "I practice saying his name to myself, whispering it under my breath. Daddy. Daddy . . . The war has lasted so long. He has been gone so long."

Before they head to the fields, he stops to buy Liz the oversize plaid shirt she wanted and to have breakfast. Here, her father's gentleness and sense of humor emerge. He orders her two pieces of pie for breakfast and after the waitress mistakes Liz for a boy, he imitates her and says, "You sure you can eat all that cherry pie, boy?"

As the two head on their way, Liz's concern about killing the crows makes her think about what her father did during the war -- and whether he was scared. The narrative reads with the hush of a morning walk by two people heading quietly into the woods. Father and daughter get to know each other through conversation and in silence.

On the last page is a photograph of Lowry as a child in the oversize plaid shirt.

The other illustrations are autumnal paintings by Russian-born Bagram Ibatoulline, who has illustrated numerous children's books, including The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Artist and author combine to present an insightful tale from the past that will resonate with readers today.