Some birds are made for greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them. The raven was of both kinds, which meant that his capacity for greatness was huge. Despite reassuring himself of this, the nerves in his stomach were relentless. Every second they seemed to find something else to have a nibble at. But it would be worth it. He was about to become one of the greatest corvids to fly the skies.
Title: What the Raven Saw
Author: Samantha-Ellen Bound
Publication: February 1st, 2013 by Woolshed Press (imprint of Random House Australia)
Format, pages: Paperback, 278
Age Group: Children’s, Middle Grade
Genre: Fantasy, Supernatural
Raven is having a rough day. All he wants to do is sit in his belltower, marvel over his treasures and revel in his own magnificence.
But if it isn’t pesky pigeons and beady-eyed weatherhens annoying him, it’s those humans tramping about among his grave.
Soon he’s forced to deal with a man stuck up a tree, a lovesick scarecrow and an ancient ghost who doesn’t understand his job description. And re-unite a little girl with her dead brother. And uncover a thief. The list never ends for a raven of his pedigree. But perhaps the raven will find that all these types have got something to offer him.
What the Raven Saw is a story about one cranky raven, one extraordinary churchyard and the songs that inhabit both.
Samantha-Ellen Bound’s children’s debut novel What the Raven Saw is a smart, witty, and ingenious story of showing what the underdogs of today are capable of, how the smallest beings we hold not much regard for can be the beings that hold the most promise in the end. What stands out the most is our protagonist, a raven who flies about the churchyard, proud to be the avian species he is, exhibiting his very nature of guarding his treasure with not much interest in socialising with any of the other – lesser – birds in the vicinity, like the weatherhen and the darned, annoying pigeon. That is until he sees things happening, until he comes across both residents and visitors to the church and its yard, that he evolves into an advisor, helping, changing, a friend to those that are lost, seeking or adapting to change themselves.
The various characters that the raven meet throughout What the Raven Saw, of man, creature, or thing, make this story what it is. They are written with a sharp eye for characterisation. There’s Father Cadman of the church whose faith and hymns influence the raven’s ways. There’s Todd, the dead twelve-year-old boy who now wanders as a ghost, watching his sorrowful sister Mackenzie, wanting a way to communicate with her, for her to know that he is there. There’s the unhappy man high up in the tree who intends to jump off. There’s the scarecrow who longs for company and wants to be alone no more. There’s the old ghost who just wants peace and quiet and for people to stop trampling upon his grave. Lastly, there’s the parishioner turned thief who needs, if unknowingly, to be caught for his wrongdoings. And everyone of them will learn what a raven is able to achieve after all.
Bound is surely a new children’s author to watch. What the Raven Saw reminded me of Roald Dahl’s works and other classic children’s books, with both the writing and the endearing characters the reasons why. There’s a timeless energy surrounding What the Raven Saw that may just make this book one that will be loved and remembered for many years to come, by both children and adults. (And no, I’m not just saying this because I personally know Sam and, well, work with her; this book really is charming! Pick it up, pick it up, pick it up!)