Crow Boy

Every year, I read this little book to my class on the first day of school. It is such a beautiful book that I think every teacher, and perhaps every adult, should read it to the children they know.

It tells the story of Chibi, a boy from the countryside of Japan who walks to school every day no matter what the weather may be. He is small, and so intimidated by the boys who tease him that he withdraws into himself. Soon, he becomes so preoccupied with his desk, or the scene outside the classroom windows, that he is unable to learn anything at all. And everyone accepts that he is ignorant.

But, one day, he has a new teacher. A teacher who smiles at him. Who listens to him. Who reaches down into Chibi and pulls out all the beautiful and wonderful parts that make up this boy who has hidden himself from his classmates.

We learn that Chibi is able to make every sound a crow can make: the voices of newly hatched crows, the mother crow’s voice, the father crow’s voice, the crows’ cry from early in the morning, or their cry when the village people have some unhappy accident. How has he learned these caws? By walking to school every day for six years, not missing even one day.

We are awed by his stamina, by his gifts, and by our own insensitivity to those around us whom we haven’t cared enough to fully know.

It is a powerful lesson for everyone.

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27 thoughts on “Crow Boy

  1. Perhaps we should read it even to the child hidden away within ourselves. Then, done with the reading, we could become our own teacher, and smile at ourselves, and reveal some of the beautiful and wonderful parts that we've hidden from the world.Chibi and I could have great fun. He could tell me about crows and I could tell him about ducks – my specialty is reuniting mama ducks with their far-flung babies. There's always one duckling who wanders, and a little extra help never hurts when panic sets in!

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  2. A tribute to all loving, caring teachers like you, then. Happy back to school Bellezza! BTW, just wanted to tell you that I am headed to Chicago for our annual meeting that we always attend. Only three days, but would turn it down for anything! Watertower Place here we come!

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  3. I think the kids in your class are very blessed to have you as their teacher!! I am going to look for this book in the library!btw, just started After Dark. I'm not very far in but it is a bit confusing right now!

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  4. Shoreacres, your comments are very meaningful as you take the time to go beyond the superficial. Indeed, I think we need to become our own teachers, "smile at ourselves, and reveal some of the beautiful and wonderful parts that we've hidden from the world." I'd love to see you reunite the mamas with their babies.

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  5. Booklogged, it's such a blessing to have cool weather in our non-airconditioned elementary buildings, but it's even better to get to know the children. So far, they're just wonderful!

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  6. Claire, I love children's books for the very same reason. I think I learned most of the important life lessons from children's books at my mother's knee. Or, at a bedtime story.

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  7. Sandy, I hope you have an absolutely fantastic time in Chicago! I haven't been to Water Tower in a long time, but I assume you'll do some shopping for me? Kiss the Bean, and perhaps Navy Pier as well!

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  8. Sara, don't be discouraged about After Dark. It is a bit confusing, but that's the nature of Murakami. You have to abandon how you're used to reading (i.e. understanding everything) and just go with his thoughts. Believe me, you'll be mulling them over for quite some time. There are a few reviews of After Dark appearing on the review site that you might want to check out; of course, I'll be anxious to talk about it at any time with you!

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  9. Lorraine, if I can do anything to diminish bullies I'll be a happy woman! I can still remember the times I was teased as a child, and they still sting a bit.

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  10. Tony, I never thought of Crow Boy and Kafka on The Shore, but yes! What an interesting connection! They both were unusual boys, coming to an awareness of their gifts…I loved that you brought that to my attention.

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  11. I will look for a copy of this for Miss Shaylyn while I'm visiting her this weekend. It sounds like a wonderful book, Bellezza. Thank you! Hope all is going well with you at school. I'm still pretending it's summer even though the temps are in the 60s here!

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  12. Les, I received your most beautiful card in the mail yesterday…a very welcome sight after a very l.o.n.g day! You should be able to find it in paperback, and I think it's very definitely worth buying for Miss Shaylyn (and ourselves, actually, as adults). Hope you had/are having? a lovely vacation!

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  13. What a beautiful story to read to your class every year! I am sure some shy little boy or girl has listened to that and felt better about themselves! I love collecting children's books too and will pick this one up. Thanks sharing this with us!Suzanne

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