He sat perched on the bottom gable of the church’s roof, a smudge of glossy blue-black with a tiny, alabaster eye.
The raven was trying to watch the funeral below, but he had to keep looking back to check the weatherhen wasn’t giving him the eye.
Oh, the shame of it.
She had the act down pat – pretend to be all nice and silent and still. The perfect little weathervane, pointing from north from south. No problems here. But as soon as the raven let his guard down, there she was with her beady eyes.
She was after something of his. He knew it. But no amount of razzle dazzle would get her anywhere near his treasure.
What the Raven Saw is narrated, as the title suggests, by a raven. Raven lives in a church yard. It’s generally peaceful, people mostly left him alone, and that suited him just fine. It was a great place to hide his treasure too. Then there was the bonus of the Sunday morning singing, led by his only friend and equal, the splendid-voiced Father Cadman. Then a young boy’s funeral introduces Raven to her sister, the fiercely angry Mackenzie. Raven despises pigeons, is very wary of the obviously-avaricious weatherhen, mostly ignored the moaning ghosts of the graveyard, but Todd, the young boy, is impossible to ignore and Raven’s life begins to change. For reasons he’s not very keen to explore, Raven is the lynch-pin in lives and happenings all around him.
Raven is a delightfully grumpy, proud and self-contained protagonist. He thinks well of himself and apparently not much of anyone else. ‘What the Raven Saw’ is full of lovely language and an unusual observation of life. Raven can speak to and understand fellow birds, scarecrows, ghosts and humans. His musings are wonderfully funny and his pronouncements sometimes absurd. While he observes sadness and anger in the humans, he also experiences their optimism and belief. Those fortunate enough to hear Raven speak seem intent on seeing only good in him, despite his best efforts. Gradually, their belief in him allows him to see beyond his assertions and to live the good they are sure is there. This is a warm and gently humourous look at life through the eyes of a bird. Recommended for mid-primary readers and beyond.
What the Raven Saw, Samantha-Ellen Bound
Woolshed Press 2013
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
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