Reviews for Crow Girl

Kirkus Reviews 2012 October #2
From a press that specializes in middle-grade–and-above–interest–level books written at a low reading level, a story both simple and simplistic about a teen finding herself. Lily is tormented by the mean girls at school, but the principal chooses not to do anything, ascribing it to Lily's sensitivity. Lily's mom, with 10-year-old boy twins, wants to believe all is OK, but Lily is obsessed with hiding herself, particularly her breasts and belly, feeling that she is fat and unattractive. Coming home from school through the woods, she discovers a crow looking at her fiercely, and she begins to bring scraps to the crows that then come at her call. She stops eating sweets after school so she can get to the crows, who make her feel scared and powerful at once. Her grandmother teaches her to stand properly and buys her bras that fit, so subtly, Lily's appearance is transformed. She attends a Halloween party dressed as a crow, effectively scaring some people and wowing some others, and gets back at the clique in a not-very-nice but satisfying way. Everything happens in lightly sketched outline, and it is all telling, not showing. Perhaps because it is all meant to be empowering and full of good advice, with a generous dash of crow magic, there is very little character development. The beautiful black-on-blue cut-paper–designed cover is perhaps the most attractive thing about it. (Fiction. 10-18) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

VOYA Reviews 2013 April
Outsider Lily Stanfield is a victim of bullying at her school. The girls make fun of her, and the boys either tease her or do not see her at all. When she takes a shortcut through the woods, she meets a crow. Drawn back to the woods the following day, Lily finds even more crows waiting for her. Day after day, she feeds the crows because they make her feel less alone and less miserable. The frequent walks in the woods cause Lily to lose weight and feel more confident. After a shopping trip with her grandmother, Lily experiments with makeup, pulls her hair back, and tries on her new black brassiere and the black dress that makes her feel pretty. She decides to attend an upcoming Halloween party as her grand metamorphosis. Her costume will be so stunning and beautiful that everyone will notice her--all she needs is a little help from the crows This super thin, fast-reading novella was published by Stoke Books, which specializes in books written for reluctant and at-risk readers. It definitely fits that niche with its short chapters, larger font, and quick-moving plot, but the story itself is lackluster. The cover art and jacket blurb give this book a fantastical shape-shifter feel, but it is actually a coming-of-age story where a bullied teen finally sees her self-worth and becomes more confident. Even that message is diluted, however, by the fact that Lily's self-worth seems unnecessarily hinged to her looks and the new brassiere. It is understandable that the brassiere makes Lily feel more attractive, but when one of the boys makes a statement about her "tits," the whole self-worth message gets muddied. Self-worth should not be tied to looks or how great one's breasts look. Any empowerment bestowed upon Lily is crushed by this one sexual remark. Lily's transformation story would have worked just fine without both the brassiere and the remark.--Sarah Cofer 2Q 2P J Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.

VOYA Reviews 2012 December
If the two titles below are any indication, this new series of novellas from Stoke Books is bound to be a staple in many school and public libraries. Billed as "first class short teen fiction, accessible to all," each title is written at a fourth-grade reading level, but aimed soundly at a young adult audience. Few will miss a more complicated vocabulary or extra detail when the stories are this engaging. These are pricey, but well worth it Crow Girl takes a traditional young adult character--the sad, slightly chubby, high school loner--and rescues her. Lily runs from very real bullies only to wind up in the dark woods where she meets, and eventually trains, a murder of crows who will become her living Halloween costume. Through her interaction with the crows, almost accidentally training them, Lily rediscovers her own strengths and quirks. Those discoveries allow her to recreate and reclaim her place in the social life of the school, as herself Pale is pure science fiction, as one would expect from the author of Retribution Falls (Gollancz, 2009). Pales are people brought back to life with Lazarus serum. They do not breath, their hearts do not beat, and they are legally dead. The serum only works on one blood type, so jealousy and fear of Pales is endemic in the society. As this story begins, Jed and his best friend beat a Pale boy almost to a second death, with no repercussions. When Jed is hit by a car later that day and revived, he learns the true meaning of karma in a few short days.--Beth Karpas 4Q 3P J S Copyright 2011 Voya Reviews.