Review! Crow Not Crow by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple – with guest poems by Jane Yolen!

Crow Not Crow
Co-written by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple
Illustrated by Elizabeth Dulemba
36 pages – ages 6+
Published by The Cornell Lab Publishing Group on August 28, 2018

Synopsis from Publisher-New York Times bestselling children’s author, Jane Yolen, and her son Adam Stemple have teamed up to write a gentle tale of a father introducing his daughter to the joys of bird watching using the “Crow, not Crow” method for distinguishing birds. Elizabeth Dulemba’s delightfully warm illustrations bring the story to life.”

What I Thought- This is a really sweet and endearing take on an activity that many probably have not truly considered. I mean, we’ve all seen birds, but I know I haven’t given an extreme look at them except for in 9th grade Biology class. The book teaches kids (and adults!) the “Crow, not Crow” method – where you look at birds and only decide whether they are a crow or not a crow, noting the differences between the mystery bird and a crow. Yolen and Stemple create a story of a young girl going out with her dad to learn how to watch birds, showing the loving bond between the two as the girl learns a family hobby. Dulemba fills the book with beautiful full-page spreads, showing us all the wonder in the nature that is found, clearly showing the warmth and love that the father and the daughter share.


I loved that the birds are depicted accurately, with information and photos in the back of the book. There are also QR codes that you can use to find the bird calls and more information.


This book is truly a masterpiece and I think families will love to read this book and look for birds together.

I give this book five out of five bookworms!

I have the wonderful opportunity to share a guest post from Jane Yolen with you all today!

Take it away Ms. Yolen!


CROW NOT CROW is a family story. But the following three crow poems are all my own. Enjoy.

Crows in a Field: A Haiku

Two crows in a field.
I know what that means—do you?
Attempted murder.

Five Winters with Birds

Like a drop of errant red paint
cardinal blots the snow.

A shiver of robins
dotting the landscape

Poster child: starving sparrow
Under a bend of azalea.

A solitary crow punctuates
snow’s sentence, perhaps
a comma, certainly a comment.

A vee of geese, erratic letters
telling of change.

If Nature itself is divided, why be shocked
by human fights over the many words
for sand, for love, for snow,

or the proper name of God?

The Wisdom of Birds

“Animals are often smarter than people, so it is they who should object to anthropomorphism.—John Hornstein

The wise owl, or so he’s been dubbed
by some anthropomorphic admirer,
looks down from his tree
where he’s been contemplating
the square root of shrew.
Giving a small cough, he throws up
a bit of wisdom, shaped exactly
like a pellet, stuffed full of bones
and fur.

Not exactly Schopenhauer,
remarks a nearby crow,
though he knows how to satisfy himself.
The mob flies off laughing,
whether at the owl,
now considering his flight feathers
and the phenomenon of  mice,
no one can say, sarcasm, not wisdom,
being the forte of crows.

All poems ©2018 Jane Yolen, all rights reserved.

Categories: Age 6-9

Tags: , , , , , , ,

11 replies

  1. Love your crow poems, Erik! 🙂

  2. Your poems are great, I especially love the haiku. This book would be great to encourage a family to do bird watching together.

  3. Crows are quite magnificent! Thanks for sharing Jane’s poems too!

  4. Outstanding poems, Erik! Every bit as good as any poem I’ve seen by adults. Keep up the good work!

    • While I would love to take credit for the poems, they are Ms. Yolen’s – I do appreciate your comment though! They are marvelous poems!

  5. I didn’t realize you enjoyed writing poetry! Excellent. I am so glad to see Jane Yolen’s book about a father teaching his daughter about birding. In the past few years I have seen many more MG books that include a theme of birding as a part of the story. Encouraging!

    • It’s such a great PB! I do enjoy writing poetry, but the poems are written by Jane Yolen. Thank you for the compliment though!

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