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King Crow by Eric Rohmann
King Crow
Knopf Books for Young Readers, 1995
ISBN: 978-0-5175-9634-0, hardcover

King Crow

written by Jennifer Armstrong
illustrated by Eric Rohmann

Rich, dramatic paintings adorn this tale of treachery and kindness rewarded. Wise and generous King Cormac is envied by his neighbor, evil King Bregnant, who wages war on Cormac. After the battle, Cormac awakes to find himself alone and blind. Despairing, Cormac nevertheless shows compassion to a crow with an arrow in his wing and receives the crow's promise of future aid; later, when Cormac is imprisoned, the crow brings news of Bregnant’s actions, enabling Cormac to unnerve his captors with his apparent powers of prophecy. In a final confrontation, Cormac predicts Bregnant's imminent doom, and the terrified tyrant stumbles and falls to his death. Traditional folkloric elements enhance the drama and mystery of this tale, giving it a classic feeling. Rohmann's handsome paintings add to this with sweeping layouts, striking compositions, and darkly burnished colors. —Booklist

From Eric:

“I was sent a good story written by Jennifer Armstrong, but I didn’t do it justice. The sobering tale of kings and the hubris of power is over-illustrated. Early in my career I did not understand that more is not always better. In an effort to be something like cinematic in book form, I forgot about the story and made individual images that don’t hold together as a book.

From this project I learned that a picture book is not a just collection of paintings, but images that tell a story through the ebb and flow of the narrative.”

Publishers Weekly
Caldecott Honor artist Rohmann's (Time Flies) thrillingly elegant paintings immediately immerse readers in the medieval setting of Armstrong's (Hugh Can Do) resonant tale of two kings. Reluctantly drawn into battle with the wicked, jealous Bregant, wise Cormac is defeated, thrown from his horse and left for dead on the field. Awakening the next day, the newly blinded king hears pleas for mercy from a wounded crow; when Cormac removes an arrow from its wing, the bird promises to repay the king's kindness. The promise is amply fulfilled before this heroic adventure reaches its conclusion. Armstrong’s heady storytelling, with its symbolism and formal diction, finds a match in Rohmann’s almost operatic compositions and dramatic use of light and shadow. This collaboration takes wing.
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