A Raven Named Grip: How a Bird Inspired Two Famous Writers, Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe

Dial. Oct. 2021. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593324721.
Gr 1-4–While many children will not be acquainted with either Charles Dickens or Edgar Allan Poe, this little-known story will interest and amuse them. The antics of a series of pet ravens, each of whom was named Grip, provided Dickens with valuable writing material, even though these pet birds created plenty of household turmoil and aggravated Dickens’s own children. In his book Barnaby Rudge, Dickens invented a literary version of his own raven. This precipitated his relationship with Poe, a yet-undiscovered American writer who was inspired to create his own spooky poem that became an instant hit. Even kids knew about this celebrity author. Croaking like the bird in the poem, they would chase Poe down the street just to have him spin around and declare the most famous word from the poem—“Nevermore!” Fotheringham’s digital illustrations beautifully evoke the dress and scenery of the Victorian era. Employing the craft of a skilled storyteller, Singer makes a few historical facts come alive in the form of a delightful tale. Satisfying back matter includes her personal experience with ravens as well as additional raven facts.
VERDICT A slice of literary history that will appeal to a young audience as well as teachers, librarians, and caregivers. Perfect as a read-aloud, this is a fine addition for any collection.

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