________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 14 . . . . March 2, 2007


Crow Medicine. (Jane Ray's Wildlife Rescue Series, 2).

Diane Haynes.
North Vancouver, BC: Walrus Books/Whitecap Books, 2006.
352 pp., pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 1-55285-806-5.

Subject Heading:
Crows-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 8-11 / Ages 13-16.

Review by Jen Waters.

*** /4



"Every animal carries its own power, its own medicine," she explained, tracing the rings in the polished tree-stump table with a small, worn hand," and if an animal is your guide, then you have that animal's medicine to help you on your path."

"And I have crow medicine?" Jane asked tentatively.

"Crow, yes. And probably others too," Audrey answered. "If there's animals you keep meetin' up with over and over again in your life, chances are, they're your medicine animals. Pay attention to those ones."


Jane Ray, Canada's answer to this generation's environmentally friendly Nancy Drew, returns in Crow Medicine, the second book in the "Jane Ray Wildlife Rescue Series" by Diane Haynes. As in the previous book (which saw our heroine rehabilitate oil-slicked birds and protest against non eco-friendly shipping corporations), here Jane also amuses and educates the reader with her "save the day" antics. Starting a summer job at the Lower Mainland's Urban Wildlife Rescue Centre (where she volunteered the year before), Jane decides that her new mission is to save the crows and the province from approaching West Nile Virus which has not yet made its way over the mountains into British Columbia. When the good folks at the rescue centre learn that crows are the indicators or messengers of the virus, they make the controversial decision to euthanize injured crows brought into the centre as they could be carriers of the virus and pass it on to humans. This act of humanity turns many animal rights activists, donators, and funding agencies against the centre. Windows are smashed, death threats are made, and most importantly, funding is taken away, rendering the centre almost helpless. Luckily, a well-timed anonymous donation enables Jane and her two sidekick friends to go on daring road trip to Rocky Mountain Wildlife Hospital and bring back an expensive vaccine that can be used to save the crows and any other animals affected by West Nile Virus.

      At times, Crow Medicine veers into the land of Isabel Allende with dream sequences, spirit animals, tales surrounding the magical phoenix, and the addition of a wise old crone character who tells Jane about the "medicine" animals carry with them as well as the gift that certain people possess to access that medicine. This magical element may be an effort on Hayne's behalf to widen her readership to include fans of animal fantasy. In this way, Crow Medicine could be a good companion to the Clem Martini's "Feather and Bone Crow Chronicles," which are much less realistic and purely fantasy/folklore driven but similarly deal with a plague killing crows. But while these spiritual passages, in addition to multiple descriptions of wildlife and scenery are well written, they produce a novel that is about 100 pages too long and could have benefitted from further editing.

      Haynes has certainly created a unique heroine in Jane Ray, someone who will hopefully inspire teen boys and girls to become activists of wildlife rehabilitation, but Jane occasionally becomes a caricature as she is so good, so daring, able to stand up to mean politicians and learn how to fly a float plane (while her friend administers CPR to the original pilot) in a pinch. That being said, Jane and her friends provide great adventure and the female answer to Gary Paulsen. The "Wildlife Rescue Series" should prove popular with teens and teachers who want to do their part in saving the world. Perhaps Jane and her friends can become tree planters for the next book and single-handedly rebuild Stanley Park.


Jen Waters is the Teen Services Librarian at the Red Deer Public Library in Red Deer, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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