Vic Sbarbaro is a Certified Health Education Specialist who teaches at both Chico State University and Butte College. He and his two sisters, Marcia Pezzella and Sandy DeRoss, have teamed up with illustrator Ashe Lewis to produce an inventive tale in "rhyme and rap" about the effects of bullying and the importance of honesty.
"Crowlyle Finds His Caw" ($10.95 in paperback from North State Children's Books) is available at local bookstores and online at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. The story is dedicated to Gary Sbarbaro, a retired doctor of pharmacology now battling serious illness who was nicknamed "Crowbait" when he was growing up in Siskiyou County. So why not a story about a crow family, the Crowsetts?
Puns pile high as the crow flies. The family is preparing for the Crow Idol Cawtest and Crowbait, Crowlyle's twin brother, looks to be the sure winner. But is he getting hoarse with all that practice?
Crowlyle, meantime, doesn't even have a caw and he's also worried about a bully. "That mean old bully Crownin / He steals my lunch each day / I wish I were tough and buff / to keep his crownies away." Then Crowlyle meets Wilbur wiggly worm and together they hatch a plan to scare the bully with a gummy worm ("that will make his old caw CROWk"). Wilbur takes Crowlyle to the Feathered Weathered Spa to see the silent scarecrow "who will help you find your caw" by scaring it out of him. And it happens. "Ah Haw! I found my Caw!"
Then onward to root for Crowbait "in the Crow Idol rap show." But something's wrong. "Crowbait begins to caw his rap / Into the miCROWphone / He then becomes cawless / And feels so all alone." Swiftly, "Crowlyle flies to a hidden branch / And there in staged disguise / Begins to caw Crowbait's rap / Which is a HUGE surprise." Crowlyle belts it out: "So quit teasing others / Don't be cruel / Stand up for a friend / Is the golden rule."
Crowbait gets a standing crowvation. But who really deserves the award? Crowbait, too, has something to learn.
Lewis' full-page illustrations are delightful, colorful and beautifully detailed. And, if I may say so, it's all for a good caws.