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The Lord of the Crows

Region: Eastern EuropeUkraine

Author: Modern adaptation and rendition in English by Gini Graham Scott

Original Language: Ukrainian

Translator: Translated by the author

Genre: Folktales

Descriptors: animals, birds, crows, farms, magic, peasants, poor families, wishes

Age: 7-10 years old


“The Lord of the Crows” is an adaptation of a traditional Ukrainian folktale about a young peasant, Sasha, and his family as they try to survive on a small plot of land in the Ukrainian countryside. Their family is very poor and only has two skinny oxen to help them grow food. One day, a large black crow, known as The Lord of Crows, descends on the farm and demands a tribute. He gives Sasha’s father a choice of surrendering his oxen or one of his sons for the crow’s dinner. Reluctantly, the father gives The Lord of Crows both oxen. As the crow flies away, oxen grasped between his talons, he says he will reward them for their tribute if one of the sons visits his palace deep inside the forest, knowing it is impossible for a human to find it alone. Both elder sons try to complete the mission but go missing in the woods. Sasha, the last remaining son, must venture into the woods. Along the way, he stops to help an injured, hungry crow. The crow thanks him for his kindness by showing him a safe passage to the palace and advising him what to tell the Lord of Crows when choosing his reward: “you only want what he puts under his pillow before he goes to bed at night.” This magical tale is full of surprises and shows children how rewarding kindness can be. This short story comes from the collection 3 Folktales from Eastern Europe and Central Asia: Stories from the Ukraine, Latvia, and Turkmenistan, whereby the author retells some of her favorite folktales that were told by villagers from these regions. Each story is centered around the common theme of poor peasants using their wisdom and generosity “to succeed despite obstacles against an unfair ruler.” This collection uses stock images to illustrate the stories, using a mix of real-life photography and digital illustrations. These magical tales are suitable for ages 7 to 10 years old.  

More About This Book

Reviewed: e-book (self-published?) (2015). ISBN: 0692460985, 9780692460986. 84 p. 

Notes: From Gini Graham Scott’s 3 Folktales from Eastern Europe and Central Asia: Stories from the Ukraine, Latvia, and Turkmenistan. The Kindle version puts censor bars through the pictures, which makes it difficult to see the entire image. The layout of the text and photos is also messed up in the Kindle version, often cutting pictures in half to where the top portion of the image will appear at the bottom of a page and the bottom portion of the image will appear at the top of the following page. At times, some of the photos that are similar end up overlapping one another.  Additional sources used: [The introduction of 3 Folktales from Eastern Europe and Central Asia: Stories from the Ukraine, Latvia, and Turkmenistan] 

Resources: Amazon: 

Reviewed by Leah Byrnes

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