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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Little crow just as beautiful as the rest

Adapted by Amy Friedman

Jillian Gilliland

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"The Mother's Child" is a European folk tale.

Long ago, after the creator had made all the beings of the Earth and sea and sky, he called all the mothers and their children to gather. He wanted to study the creatures he had made. He wanted to look at their wings and arms, their feathers and feet, their tails and manes, eyes, noses, beaks and gills, lips and tongues, antlers and snouts. He wanted to make sure that each of his creations would be warm during the wintertime, cool in the harshest heat, comfortable in the places they called home.

Every mother came, and one by one they paraded their children before the creator. They nudged their offspring to swim or fly or strut, to show off their finest features.

Owls hooted and opened their eyes wider as their mothers instructed. Baby spiders spun intricate, silvery webs. Elephants proudly swung their trunks, and giraffes stretched their necks even longer. Leopards displayed their special spots, and zebras swayed in their stripes.

The creator was pleased. Each creation was special in its own way, and he liked what he saw. That is, until a crow stepped forward, prodding her child ahead.

"Here she is!" the mother cawed.

"I didn't make such a creature," the creator said, frowning. "Every other creature I made is beautiful. This little crow is hideous. Where did you get her?"

The mother crow looked at the ground, her heart knotted with sorrow. She stepped in front of her child, hoping she had not understood the creator's insult. "What do you mean, where did I get her? She is my child your creation."

"Go find another one," the creator said, disgusted by the sight of the poor little crow. He turned away so he would not have to look and added, "Find yourself a beautiful child."

The mother crow was devastated. She loved her child with all her heart. She looked at her and saw a beautiful thing sturdy and shiny, black feathers glistening under the light of the dying sun. But she could not ignore the creator.

"Stay right here," the mother crow instructed her child. "I'm going to see if I can find another baby that's lovelier than you."

The little crow bowed her head. She only wished her mother would love her, but perhaps she did not deserve love; maybe she wasn't beautiful enough.

The mother crow took off, flying east, searching the sky for a beautiful child.

She flew past a nest of falcons and moved in close to take a look, but when she saw them, she shook her head. Her child was much more beautiful than these babies. She swept toward the ground to study penguins, ducks and geese, and she thought them no better at all. She looked at kiwis and cranes, finches and vultures, pigeons and parrots. Everywhere she looked she saw little ones who were cute and fuzzy, colorful, but no one quite so beautiful as her baby crow.

On she traveled, considering every bird she passed: flamingos, ostriches, pelicans, egrets and macaws. She swept past owls and terns, and the wandering albatross, but every single creature looked frail or plump, awkward or angry, pale or puffed up when the mother crow compared it to her child.

She flew back to her child's side, and bowed to the creator. "I have searched the world," she said. "Everywhere I see birds, but I have not found one that is more beautiful than mine."

She kissed her little one on the head, and the baby crow's heart swelled with pleasure.

The creator understood. "You are right," he said. "Every mother thinks her child is the most beautiful child in the world." And ever since that day every child has understood that it is a mother's love that makes every child beautiful.