By Harriet Hart
English and Español
Review by Janice Kimball
Carmelita Crow sweeps us up and takes us along with her and her parents and siblings as they fly from a Mexican village across the American border into Los Angeles, leaving behind a world that felt safe and familiar, a place with cousins, aunts and uncles that she misses. Los Angeles was noisy and smelly. Carmelita pouted and begged to go home.
When Carmelita found a small flock of other crows she asks, “What’s up?” They are bad birds and make fun of her when she loses at their game of collecting shiny objects, a game she could have won. She chooses instead to do what is right in giving a little girl back her lost bracelet.
Then she meets her mentor, Hitchcock, as she perches on the other half of the H on the huge Hollywood sign. He offers to take her to see the sights of Hollywood. But Carmelita remembers that not all birds are nice, and she knows better than to go off alone with a stranger.
The following day she returns with her parents and siblings. They fly off with Hitchcock as he takes them on a tour of Los Angeles and they see many wondrous sights. Carmelita learns that ‘although it is hard to leave a place you love and make a new home in a new land, every place is special. She wisely decides that it is up to her to be happy in her new home.
This bilingual book illustrated by Mexican children is a simply told and delightful tale that is also very real. It is the universal story of a child that has been uprooted from her culture to relocate in the unknown. It is a story that has been repeated in children’s lives countless times, a multi- layered tale of profound truths.
At first it seemed that Carmelita as a fledgling leads a life without choices where her only option is to adapt to the life of her parents. Through her we learn that this is not true. The book makes us realize that although a child does not have control over their destiny, they do have power through the decisions they make, and through the most important decision of all, how they can choose to perceive their life.This is a lesson many adults could learn from. This children’s book gives examples about wise decision making. It illustrates how we all have the ability to adapt.
Harriet Hart’s love of birds and children is at the very core of Carmelita Crow. She is giving the proceeds from the sale of this book to support the Efren Gonzales Children’s Art Program, whose illustrations so wonderfully enhance this story. Written in both Spanish and English this is the perfect gift for the child of your gardener or cleaning woman or the child next door, (for whom it may be their very first book, one never to be forgotten) as well as for your grandchildren north of the border. Purchasing this book is a contribution to children in our lakeside community; it is a gift that keeps on giving. $150 pesos. Available at Efren Gonzalez Gallery and Diane Pearl’s.