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Book Review: Crow Bakery 乌鸦面包店 (Set of 5)

Author/Illustrator: 加古里子 Satoshi Kako
Translated by: 猿渡静子
Country of original publication: Japan
Language: Simplified Chinese
~ Pages per book: 32
~ Lines per page: 2 – 8 (but they’re short)
~ Number of books in series: 5
Pinyin: no
Audio available: Yes, Luka compatible & Ximalaya
Available in Singapore NLB: Yes, in both Chinese and English
Recommended age for the story: 5 – 12
Difficulty in reading: ~1000 characters of knowledge needed
Audience: 5 to 12 years old

What is the Crow Bakery series?

This series has become a new favourite our place! The story centres around the humble beginnings of a mom-and-pop bakery business, opened by two crows in the Spring Forest. When the bakers give birth to four healthy baby chicks (all of different colours!), they care for their babies with lots of love, which comes at cost to their business. Often the bread gets burnt and customers start disappearing.

This set of 5 books follows the progression of the bakery – followed by various other enterprises around the forest – and how the family go about their daily life, through ups and downs. As an adult, I’m also intrigued to follow the story and find out what happens next to this hard-working and ingenious set of birds. At one stage, I was wishing my daughter would read them faster!! It was such an enchanting story. For a foodie family, these are an especially cute set, as there are lots of opportunities to view different bread, pastry, veggie, fruit and noodle creations.

We really love books translated from Japanese in our house – there’s something about the pictures and the stories which are always so unique and endearing, generally with valuable lessons subtly contained. The Crow Bakery book set is no different. The author is indeed a master storyteller. We bought it without blinking an eye, because it had been recommended by a few wonderful bilingual bloggers including Angie at GrowingHearts123. I should have known, since Linxin at My Story Treasury always has amazing books in her collection.

The first book (乌鸦面包店 Crow Bakery) was written in 1973 (but it doesn’t feel at all dated), and the remainder were not published until 40 years later (2013) when the author was a grand old 87. His readers had been urging him to write a sequel, so he finally got around to it, apparently.

The author says he chose to write about crows because there is a Japanese tradition that they bring bad luck, however he wanted to share that these creatures are also very clever and complex, and that we should care more about them and not simply judge based on a baseless superstition.

The booksets are great inspiration for extended creative play too.

Why we think it’s really great….

We are certainly looking forward to discovering more books by this talent author!

Titles in the Series

There are five books in the set:

乌鸦面包店 Crow Bakery
乌鸦糕点店 Crow Pastry Shop
乌鸦天妇罗店 Crow Tempura Shop
乌鸦蔬果店 Crow Fruit and Veggie Shop
乌鸦荞麦面店 Crow Soba Noodle Shop

The set also comes with a parents’ guide. The guide is written fully in Chinese, so it’s not a huge help to me, however I did have a go using our Youdao pen to translate it, and picked up some interesting background about the author and other books he has written. I really quite enjoyed this guide too, which comes included with the set.

Crow Bakery Parents’ Guide: it contains background about each story and some helpful teaching points (best for adults who can read Chinese!)

Where to borrow or buy in Singapore?

Thankfully, this book is available in Chinese (and English version) through National Library Board. You can also buy it in Singapore from great children’s Chinese bookstores, including My Story Treasury, which is where we bought our set from.

Luka Compatible?

Yes, all five books can be read on Luka, in Chinese. If you haven’t heard of Luka yet, you really must! No, I don’t earn any commission or have business interests in Luka, but as a non-Chinese heritage parent trying to raise bilingual children, I am smitten with it (and so are my kids). Luka Reading Robot is a clever – and super cute – robot which will read physical picture books aloud to your family. This adorable owl-shaped reading companion can read aloud over 50,000 Chinese books, which is great for families like ours where neither parent speaks Chinese.

If you’re looking for other similar Luka compatible books, see my blog post with a Full list of Luka Compatible Books, sorted by age grouping, which my family has enjoyed.

Photos of the Crow Bakery book sets

Below are a few more snaps from the various Crow Bakery books – it’s enchanting right?

What are other similar books to Crow Bakery?

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