Elliott, David

The Seventh Raven

(2) YA Illustrated by Rovina Cai. Elliott's (Bull, rev. 3/17; Voices, rev. 3/19) poetry is by nature taut with intensity, an effect he achieves in part through his skill with verbal rhythms, rhyme, and formal poetic structures; in part through his gimlet-eyed focus on human passion, expressed through multiple voices. He brings all this to his verse-novel interpretation of the Grimms' tale "The Seven Ravens," with poetry so propulsive that it seems to cry out for oral performance. Changed into ravens in a fit of their father's rage, seven brothers are transformed back into humans through their only sister's stalwart determination. In Elliott's retelling, one boy, Robyn, retains his wings (a variant of the Grimms' "The Six Swans"), at home "between humanity / and bird." Instead of feeling bad for being "sensitive" and "girlish and slender," unlike his boisterous brothers (humorously, all named Jack), Robyn now embraces his hybrid self--just one example of how this work is rich for discussion. Thus, once again, Elliott delves into the nuanced force of human passion (though he gives ravens' interesting propensities shorter shrift). Interspersed ­ink-and-brush illustrations accentuate the dark feathers and flight of the tale's magic.


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