PPBF: Crow Boy and World Read Aloud Day

Today is Perfect Picture Book Friday where I link up with Susannah Leonard Hill’s fantastic group of writers who contribute a picture book review and related resources.  Parents and teachers can find the best of the best in picture books…a little synopsis, a thoughtful review, and an activity and/or resources to extend the learning experience.  This is a great way for parents and teachers to preview a book before they take it out of the library or spend money buying it.

My selection today is another classic picture book recommended in Show Me How!…this one from 1955…the author/illustrator, Taro Yashima, won the Caldecott Honor Book Award.  

World Read Aloud Day is coming up on March 7th and I thought that Crow Boy would be a perfect choice to get us all in a global awareness mood.



Crow Boy

Written and illustrated by Taro Yashima

Publishers: Viking Juvenile (original edition 1955), Picture Puffins (1976)

Ages: 4 – 8

Themes: Celebrating the uniqueness of each individual, bullying/teasing, mastering tasks and skills, positive attitude, goal-setting, fitting in.

Opening: “On the first day of our village school in Japan, there was a boy missing.  He was found hidden away in the dark space underneath the schoolhouse.”

Synopsis:  Many years ago, in a small village school in the countryside of Japan, a young boy attends school.  Chibi is always perceived as stupid and is treated as an outcast by the other students.  When Mr. Isobe, the new teacher, observes Chibi’s strengths and talents (the boy is a wonderful artist and is also the only person with perfect school attendance even though he has to walk seven miles to school each day), he encourages the boy to participate in the school pageant with an imitation of the voices of crows.  Does Chibi’s performance have any effect on how the children perceive him?  Remember the talent show in Oliver Button is a Sissy.

Why do I like this book

Wonderful illustrations give the reader the sense of the small rural area in Japan…I love books that give young children a window on the world.  The story addresses many important issues as well…bullying/teasing, teacher recognition and encouragement of a student’s gifts and talents, overcoming obstacles in order to achieve one’s goals…as relevant today as it was almost sixty years ago when it was first published.

Related Activities:


Black and White Painting

Although Crow Boy had a difficult time expressing himself verbally, he was able to do so more easily with his artwork.  Painting is a wonderful way to allow a young child to express his feelings and to encourage his creativity.

You will need: Paper (construction paper or grocery bag cut open), black and white non-toxic tempera paint, brushes (or Q-tips) and coverups to protect work surfaces and clothing.

1.      Cover the work surface and your clothing to protect from splatters.

2.      Pour a small amount of black and white paint into two separate containers.

3.      Let your child paint several pictures using different size brushes and/or Q-tips.

4.      When dry, hang up this amazing art. 

5.      Tip to parents and teachers: Art is one thing…crafting is another.  Art is pure expression.  Crafting is following certain rules or steps to produce a particular product.  This activity is art…the child is creating whatever he or she desires…if you ask, “What is this?” or you inquire, “Didn’t you forget the dog’s tail?”…you are passing judgement on your child’s creative voice…I beg you, please don’t!  You can engage with your child by asking, “Please tell me about your art.”  In praising, it is more empowering to say, “I’m so proud of how hard you worked making thick strokes and thin strokes.  Was it difficult?” instead of just saying, “That’s nice!”


Crayola official website with lots of arts and crafts activities and print-outs for kids.

Website for the Japanese American National Museum where you can purchase the documentary narrated by Mr. Yashimo, Golden Village.

Taro Yashimo papers in the de Grummond Collection

This post is part of a series for parents and teachers called Perfect Picture Book Fridays hosted by Susannah Leonard Hill.  Click on her link and find lots of other picture book suggestions with summaries and activities.



Do you have anything special planned?

You can go to LitWorld’s website to get more information and/or register…there will be events online and in different locales around the world.

They are a global literacy organization that aims to help entire communities through books.  We all that that, I know!  According to their website: 

“LitWorld’s mission is to use the power of story to cultivate literacy skills in the world’s most vulnerable children through Education, Advocacy and Innovation. Lit World creates resilience building reading and writing experiences which connect and fortify communities.”

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever Mom of 3, educator, author of FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN: AN ANIMAL COUNTING BOOK (Pomegranate Press, 2019), PIPPA'S PASSOVER PLATE (Holiday House, 2019), FROM HERE TO THERE: INVENTIONS THAT CHANGED THE WAY WE MOVE (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019), SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2019), picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, fly-fishing, cooking, and playing Monopoly with my 9-year old grandson.

Posted on February 24, 2012, in 2012, Book events, children's picture books, Crafting with Children, LitWorld, Perfect Picture Book Friday and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 45 Comments.

  1. I can’t wait till I am able to do paint works with our little one. We’ve tried once and she almost ate the paint – figured she’s still too young for painting 😀

    I am not an artist but I so would love to learn how to paint ever since I was young. But we didn’t have resources and budget was extremely focused on the basic needs so I never got to explore my creative side.

    But I do hope the little one will have interest about painting as I will definitely let her explore on this 🙂

    Thanks for a nice read once again!

    Spanish Pinay


    • So happy you liked the book choice…yes, LSP will soon be doing all of these arts and crafts projects. 🙂
      Just a suggestion…in my Show Me How book, I give a “recipe” for edible finger paints…made from strawberry and/or chocolate and/or vanilla pudding. That way, if your little one licks her fingers…no worries. 🙂
      Don’t stress about your “artistic ability”…there is an artist in all of us…the problem is that when we were young, someone told us we couldn’t draw…and we carry that belief into adulthood. If you love to use crayons or markers or paints…just do it. 🙂


  2. I can’t believe I have never read this wonderful book! It sounds fantastic. And I just loved your suggestions for activities. Especially the comments on painting. Yes, let the child use their own creativity, not the parents. Love it. Great review and thanks so much for the LitWorld link!


    • You know, Loni, it seems that many of the books I’ve reviewed are new to most of the PPBF group…although they are old classics. This makes me so very happy…to be uncovering these treasures so new generations will enjoy them. 🙂 And the benefit is not one-sided…I am discovering all the new titles that many of you recommend and that I’ve never read. A WIN-WIN situation, for sure!!!

      Glad I mentioned the upcoming World Read Aloud Day and LitWorld…hope everyone who can will participate in some way.


  3. Catherine Johnson

    It does sound wonderful and also the things the teacher got him to do were very creative. He didn’t just say everyone should walk to school like Chibi, he gave him something really interesting to do. Super choice!


    • Thank you, Catherine. I love books with messages that are relevant to our children today. We all have unique talents and gifts…parents and teachers can help kids develop a positive self-image by encouraging each child’s unique strengths…instead of pointing out the weaknesses and labeling the child negatively…”you are so clumsy”, “you’ll never learn how to do that”, “why can’t you do that right”…how many times have we heard those words?


  4. What an AWESOME book! I’ve never heard of it. I like your activities too and that you are promoting Read Aloud Day 🙂


  5. What a beautiful book. I never knew it existed. Adding it to my list. Can you imagine walking seven miles to school everyday? (Although, my mom claimed to have to do that.) Ha!

    The activities are awesome. Your review is too. Thank you!

    Have a great weekend. 🙂


    • Thank you, Robyn…so glad you liked the book and activities.
      I know, seven miles each way…sounds like an Abraham Lincoln story. 🙂 But of course, there are many children who do that…perhaps they cherish the education they are receiving more than those who live acorss the street from the school. 🙂


  6. This book reminds me of Pearl Buck’s “The Good Earth.” I love books that completely immerse you in another culture. My boys are very interested in Japan right now thanks to the “Cars 2” movie. We’ll have to check this one out and try the painting as well.


    • Kirsten…that would be great if your boys did the painting…with the black and white it can have an Oriental look to it…maybe you could get a book that had Japanese characters in it and the boys could learn to draw their names in Japanese. 🙂


  7. I have never even heard of this book and it sounds fantastic! I will definitely look for it. How important for children to find their own voice, and to feel like they aren’t alone. I love your resources and activities as always, Vivian – you do such a great job with them! 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing this book – I can’t wait to read it!


    • Glad I am helping everyone discover these older classics. 🙂
      To be honest, Susanna, it is so much fun for me to pick the book, check your list to make sure it doesn’t appear there, and post the review…I am LOVING this Perfect Picture Book Friday!!! You deserve much kudos for the idea and bringing it to fruition. 🙂


  8. This would have been a book I could have read as a child. Can’t believe I’ve never seen it before. The fact it has stood the test of time, must mean it’s a great relevant book. I like your acvities too — you are so creative.


    • Now I am blushing, Pat. 🙂
      Finding classic picture books with great messages that are relevant today and matching them up with activities is what I am all about…even back in my babysitting days (back in the Stone Age of the early 60’s)…I was really popular (as a babysitter) because the parents knew I’d be reading and crafting with their kids, not watching TV or talking on the phone.
      So glad you liked the book and activities. 🙂


  9. Your resources and activities for this are amazing! Something for me to aspire to in my own PPBF posts. The book looks beautiful and I look forward to picking up a copy. Thank you!


    • Hi Amy,
      Thank you so much…I’m thrilled everyone loves the book and the activities. I’ve had many years of practice…babysat since I was 11…taught kindergarten and Head Start, ran a home daycare for prescholers, raised three children of my own, wrote the Show Me How book that has 100 picture book suggestions each with matching craft and cooking activities…and now I volunteer at kindergartens and Pre-K’s reading and crafting with the kids. I guess I have a huge storehouse of stories and crafts in my brain and PPBF is the pefect outlet for me to keep my overloaded brain from exploding. 🙂 🙂


  10. Thank you for this review. I haven’t been able to get my hands on a copy of this book, but I have seen it extolled elsewhere. Love the idea of being able to visualize that small, country village in Japan. The artwork on the cover is so clever. Great message.


  11. This book sounds excellent, and timeless.

    Thank you so much for your injunction to parents and teachers not to judge! That’s so important.


    • Glad you agree, Beth. It’s really funny…I was watching a CREATE TV show with a woman who was doing a seashell craft project with two elementary school age kids…during the entire 5 minutes or so that they were trying to “create” their art, she hovered over them, gushing about how beautiful the shells were and several times asked, “WHAT IS THAT?” So funny, because you’d think if she has a show like that, she would be a little more knowledgeable about how to craft the questions and conversation to encourage the creativity, not crush it.:( Then she moved to the kitchen (without the kids) and made a dish she called “Sugared Peas” with peas, honey and cinnamon because she claims that you have to fool children if you want them to eat veggies and so you should always put the word “Sugar” in the name of the dish. Hmmmmm…I think I will write in and suggest a possible show that includes a picture book reading, simple craft project and easy healthful cooking activity…Show Me How! What do you think? 🙂


  12. Thanks for sharing your choice of books. This sounds as valuable for adults as for children. We all need to forgive ourselves our judgments about ourselves and others much less about what they do.

    Art is a great medium and painting free hand a great communication tool. It can be as good as when we are writing from free style for us. We should all try it sometime. 🙂


    • You are so right, Clar! I was doing my reading/crafting program in a Montessori kindergarten the other day and the teacher was talking about doodling nad how it can release your creativity. Then I was watching an art video and the instructor encouraged you to just doodle a whole page…then see which doodles looked like “something”…this is especially good for those of us who were told we couldn’t draw when we were younger.

      I know it is hard for some parents to step back and let their kids create…if it doesn’t look like the house or the dog or whatever, they want to “help” with advice and suggestions…but the child may WANT the picture to look like it does. 🙂


  13. What a lovely book, and such great activities to go along with it! I’d never heard of this book, but I sure want to read it now!


    • Thank you, Julie. It is a wonderful book…the author/illustrator was an extremely talented artist. I think that is one of the most amazing things about children’s picture books…the illustrations are amazing…what a beautiful way to introduce art appreciation to young children. 🙂


  14. It must be beautiful if it won a Caldecott Honor Award. It sounds like a wonderful story. A library list addition for sure.


  15. I picked this book up at the PPLD Friend’s sale a few weeks OK. I grabbed the picture books with the Caledecott sticker. I agree it’s a great story and the illustrations are very nice.


    • Hurray!!!! Don’t you love the Friends of the PPLD book sale sections in all of the libraries here in Colorado Springs? I really get into trouble when I go…have NO room for even 1 more book…and walk out of there with an armful. 🙂 I just can’t leave the older classics…even if they are marked up or bindings torn…I feel like I am rescuing them from oblivion. 🙂
      Glad you scored a copy of Crow Boy!


  16. I’ve never heard of this one before, but it sounds wonderful. You have excellent activities to go along with it, too! Thank you.


  17. Great work you have here Vivian ,Nice 🙂


  18. What a wonderful book Vivian. I love the power and freedom creating art gives one. I used to love drawing in my younger days and when I have had a moment (of madness) to create something for work or whatever, I am always surprised by the results and comments I get. So important your tips for teachers and parents, as so often we hear those crushing comments. Bravo… and I hope you do put forward a programme, it would certainly be an eye opener. I am often amazed at what appears on tv these days. *rolls eyes*. Wonderful choice… and err..hum around my time to.


    • I wrote a little poem for Marylin Warner’s Things I Want to Tell my Mother February Poetry Contest…I’ll be posting it on my blog Saturday or Sunday…it addresses that very topic of the effect parent’s words have on us when we are children.
      But most parents don’t take a course in parenting…and only have their own experiences to draw on…and they do the best they can…for better or for worse. 🙂
      Glad you liked the book!


  19. I really enjoyed the activity you included for this moving story. Happy to meet you in the PPBF world!


    • Thanks for stopping by, Laura. Kids love to paint…and using black and white is fun and can help encourage their creativity with brush strokes (or Q-tip strokes). The PPBF world is definitely a wonderful place to be. 🙂


  20. I’ve never heard of this book, but it sounds wonderful. I’ll add this one to my list. I’m sure my daughter would enjoy the painting activity!


    • Hi Margaret,
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I really enjoy uncovering these classic picture books…glad you liked the painting activity that goes with it. 🙂 Most children love painting…how old is your daughter?


  21. Sounds like an amazing book to share with children… I haven’t heard of that one… 😉


    • Yes, Eliz, it is a very powerful book. Written so many years ago, it still is totally relevant today with all of the bullying problems in the schools. I love uncovering these classic treasures that many have never heard of…you guys are just too young. 🙂


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