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The Crow-Girl: The Children of Crow Cove    by Bodil Bredsdorff order for
by Bodil Bredsdorff
Order:  USA  Can
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2004 (2004)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Crow-Girl is a gentle, lyrical, feel good tale of a young girl's search for a place in life after her beloved grandmother's death (translated by Faith Ingwersen from the original Danish.) It tells of the potential for both cruelty and kindness from strangers, and provides some wisdom on how to trust one's intuitions about their behavior.

The girl lives with her old grandmother in a whitewashed home that stands in a small cove 'all the way down by the sea', with two empty houses (one a ruin) nearby. Knowing she has little time left, Grandmother tries to share her knowledge and wisdom, telling the girl she calls her 'chick' about two kinds of people in the world - those 'who make you feel inside as if you were drinking a good, warm soup' and others 'who cause you to freeze inside, even if you are sitting before a roaring fire'. She advises that 'the door to a person's heart can only be opened from within' and reminds her granddaughter to always 'continue wishing and hoping'. Grandmother promises that if the girl looks at the North Star after her death, she'll wink for her.

We see the girl perform her chores - gathering driftwood, mussels, sea kale and sea snails, cooking and cleaning. And then the dreaded day comes when she finds Grandmother cold and silent. The girl follows two crows, who seem to call to her, and has many adventures. She meets various people who make her feel either cold or warm inside. The former steal from her and name her 'Crow-girl'. She helps the latter, sharing what little she has with a small boy who needs care, and with an abused woman and her daughter. Eventually, the crows lead Crow-girl back full circle to her old home, which she enriches with a community of caring people. She finds a new name and a new family, and watches 'the North Star winking down at her.'

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