by Diana Cohn
Illustrated by Youme Landowne
Cloth $17.95 / 978-1-941026-16-8
Paper $8.95 / 978-1-941026-17-5
E-Book $8.95 978-1-941026-18-2
Publishes October 2015
Kinga and his classmates create a dance to honor Bhutan's black-necked cranes and to create awareness for their plight.
Every year, Kinga and his classmates wait for the black-necked cranes to return to the kingdom of Bhutan, deep in the Himalayas. Every year, they discover, fewer cranes return. Together with his classmates, Kinga spends time observing the cranes and their movements. From this observation, they create a dance to honor the cranes and to remind people of their duty to care for them. They perform their beautiful dance before the King of Bhutan.
Combining reverence for nature with the culture and spirituality of the Bhutanese people, this book tells the story of the Crane festival and how it came to be. One little boy turns his love of the cranes that migrate to Bhutan each year into a celebration of the sacred animal in an attempt to raise awareness of their dwindling numbers. The soft watercolor illustrations are as graceful as the text, and the information provided at the end of the story about the cranes and the culture of Bhutan combine to create a fascinating, exquisite book. Ages 4-9.
[Diana] Cohn weaves numerous details about Bhutanese life and culture into her smoothly told story; Youme adds even more with watercolor images in a naïve style that nicely matches Kinga's present-tense narration. … [Crane Boy] gracefully celebrates both a little-known culture and its beloved birds. —Kirkus Reviews
AN INTERVIEW WITH DIANA COHN
How did you come to write Crane Boy?
I was inspired to write the children’s book Crane Boy after visiting Bhutan in 2012. While I was there, I attended a traditional festival in a village monastery to see dances that had been performed the same way for hundreds of years. I also went to observe the black-necked cranes that migrate to winter in Bhutan’s great wetlands. These cranes are sacred to the Bhutanese and are an integral part of their culture. It was there I learned that a new modern festival had been created, a Crane Festival—where the monks performed their traditional dances but where schoolchildren also performed dances to raise awareness about the Black- necked cranes. It was at this instant I knew I wanted to write a story inspired by the creation of this unique Festival and the children involved in this effort. I was interested in this universal story about loving and protecting nature and that it could be told in a very specific cultural context.
Before traveling to Bhutan, did you have a connection with The Royal Society for the Protection of Nature and the International Crane Foundation who are mentioned in your Afterword?
Part of my process as a writer creating Crane Boy involved doing a tremendous amount of research on the Black-necked cranes and the Crane Festival. That’s how I learned about the work of both of these groups. After Cinco Punto Presss decided to publish Crane Boy, I asked George Archibald, the founder of International Crane Foundation to read the story and give his feedback. He has been very supportive of this book from the start. When Youme and I went to Bhutan in 2013, we conducted several focus groups on the manuscript. We met with and read the manuscript of Crane Boy to staff from the Royal Society for the Protection of Nature, to the head of education at the Gangtey Monastery (where the Crane Festival takes place) and most importantly to schoolchildren and their teachers. All the feedback and questions from those focus groups gave me ideas for revising and making last minute changes to the story. The Royal Society for the Protection of Nature is our partner in guaranteeing that copies of Crane Boy get distributed to schools and libraries throughout Bhutan.
What was it like to work with Youme on this book?
Youme spent hours in Bhutan doing extensive visual research for our book. She is a brilliant illustrator and writer, and she is a keen observer of life with its’ complex myriad of details! We have been aware of each other’s work for many years and this was our first opportunity to collaborate and work together. The most amazing part for me in the creation of this book was how Youme brought the characters and details of the Bhutanese landscape and culture to life in her illustrations. She was inspired by many of the people we met and her ability to create Kinga, our main character and Kado, the Caretaker of the Cranes and others, was one of the most marvelous processes I had the privilege to witness.
Diana Cohn is the author of seven books for children, including three widely acclaimed award-winning books: Dream Carver, Si Se Puede! / Yes we Can!— Janitor Strike in L.A. and The Bee Tree. When not writing books for children she works for a national grantmaking foundation that supports arts education and social justice organizing. She has a BA in Human Ecology from the College of the Atlantic and a Masters in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is an advisor to LItquake, San Francisco’s largest literary festival and serves on the board of the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. She lives in northern California on a houseboat with her husband.
YOUME LANDOWNE grew up loving stories. She has lived and worked as a community artist in New York, New Haven, Miami, Woods Hole, San Francisco, Kenya, Japan, Lao P.D.R., Vietnam, St. John, U.S.V.I., Haiti and Cuba. Youme’s books include Selavi (That Is Life): A Haitian Story of Hope, Mali Under the Night Sky: A Lao Story of Home, and Pitch Black: Don’t be Skerd with Anthony Horton. She is drawn to stories of survival and champions for social justice. Youme lives in an everchanging location with her husband and their two children.
Author Tour: San Francisco, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Chicago, IL; New York City; Miami, Florida.