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Lorraine McKay.
Illustrations by Sarie Jenkins.

Toronto, Three Trees Press, c1983.
48pp, paper, $11.95 (paperbound boards), $4.95 (paper).
ISBN 0-88823-065-6 (paperbound boards), 0-88823-060-5 (paper).

Grades 3 and up.
Reviewed by Margaret Montgomery.

Volume 12 Number 1
1984 January

Using the Fry graph, this slim paperback comes out at a grade 5 reading level. With forty-eight pages, including eleven full-page, black-and-white illustrations, it is really not an intermediate novel; perhaps some grade 2 or 3 students who read above grade level will find it suitable.

The cover has an excellent colour illustration of the huge callous crow carrying away our hero, Prince Melkan. Melkan is to be fed to the Great High Crow, but he escapes and ends up in the land of Zernott. There the people throw him into prison for stealing a bit of food, and he stays in prison for 930 days. He is released to help in the overthrow of the Brambletrap Ogre but hides behind a tree instead and in the end is flown home by many smaller birds.

Some interesting bits of the book include the swamp people of Zernott, the Ogre, and the Ghost of Gibbet Wood, who scares the Ogre out of the country. Some incongruous and unsuccessful elements include a princess who is appointed regent but is not allowed to do anything, a misleading title (we see the crow in only one sequence and never again), a talking tree in one scene (never mentioned again), and the lack of concern on the part of the prince's family when he disappears.

A good sturdy paperback, adequate illustrations, a story that does not quite hang together, poorly done fantasy, and a reading level that seems too high for the type of story, all add up to an "iffy" purchase.

Margaret Montgomery, West Vemon E. S., Vernon, BC.
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