8 October 2020 ARLO & PIPS: KING OF THE BIRDS by Elise Gravel, Harper Alley, October 2020, 64p., ISBN: 978-0-06-298221-6


“It’s the same story the crow told me, it’s the only one he knows

Like the morning sun you come and like the wind you go.”

-- Grateful Dead, “Uncle John’s Band” (1970)


“By measuring brain activity in crows performing a visual task, the researchers found that on top of the crows’ basic sensory experience, the birds have another layer of awareness. In the journal Science, the authors argue that these two layers of perception constitute a form of what humans call subjective experience.”

-- Alex Fox in Smithsonian Magazine, “Do Crows Possess a Sense of Consciousness?” (9/30/20)


Did you know that a French theme park trained a team of crows to pick up trash?



Must protect my snack.’

URK! (the crow grabs his throat and his tongue sticks out)

BONK! (the crow falls on his back and looks dead)


Are you okay?


[Another crow lands nearby.]

‘Ooooh, yeah, Fries!

But wait! This other crow ate some and now he’s DEAD! They must be poisonous.

I’m not taking any chances.

Tsk. Such a shame.’



‘Is he gone?’


‘Wait. You’re alive?’

“Of course!’

‘You scared me!

But it worked, right? My brilliant strategy fooled that fry thief. 

And now I have ALL the fries to myself.

I mean, unless you want some.

Do you?’


‘No thanks. I only eat berries and seeds.’


Some crows have been seen playing dead to fool other crows and keep food for themselves.”


KING OF THE BIRDS, the first in a graphic novel beginning reader-level series, features a crow and a little yellow bird. It’s a ton of fun and is chock-full of fascinating factoids about crows. 


The crow, Arlo, is a crack-up. He’s very expressive. The little yellow bird is also filled with personality. Together, these two friends hang out, first in the big city and then at the beach. Arlo, like crows everywhere, is fond of shiny things. He even has the smarts and dexterity to utilize a tool in order to get into a hard-to-reach place.


KING OF THE BIRDS is quite fun and very enlightening. You will have newfound respect for these common birds. The book makes me wonder what crows really think of scarecrows.


Richie Partington, MLIS

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