Friday, May 7, 2021

Blog Tour: The Seventh Raven

Welcome to The Seventh Raven Blog Tour!

To celebrate the release of The Seventh Raven by David Elliott on March 16th, blogs across the web are featuring original content from David, as well as 5 chances to win The Seventh Ravenas well as David's previous YA verse novels Voices and Bull!

On Reading Aloud

by David Elliott

A year or so after Bull hit the shelves, an acquaintance from my village in New Hampshire stopped me in the dairy department of our local supermarket. “I owe you a favor,” he said. I couldn’t imagine what that favor might be. After all, he’s a guy as comfortable piloting his plane as he is building a house. I, on the other hand, feel proud to have successfully changed a light bulb. “Are you sure you mean me?” I asked. “Absolutely,” he said. “Because of you, my wife and I are now reading to each other.” He went on to explain that his wife had attended Bull’s launch and had taken to heart my urging that people read the book aloud. Learning that he and his spouse were doing just that made me so happy that I forgot to buy the milk.

All three of my verse novels, Bull, Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc, and now, The Seventh Raven were written aloud, by which I mean that while I was writing them, I was also speaking them.  I was like Mr. Bean, the reclusive elderly gentleman who rented a room in my grandmother’s boarding house and at whose door my eight-year-old self constantly lurked hoping to glean a word of what he was talking about in there. I like to think now that what I was hearing through the thick panels of the heavy, oak door was not the muffled mumbling of a lonely old man, but a favorite page from Dickens or Hardy as he read aloud. 

As it turns out, I can’t write a book unless I can hear it. 

I grew up in an environment where the sound of language was as important as its meaning, where in fact, its sound carried its meaning. To hear my father say Much obliged, with the heavy stress on much and the yawning stretch of the long “i” in oblige, was, in part, to hear the history of his British ancestors who settled in the foothills of the Appalachians. Or to hear my grandmother remind my cousins and me to take a bumbershoot if rain threatened was to discern the essence of what a bumbershoot really was. The emphatic plosives and sliding sibilant conjured up the object before us in a way that reading the word silently never could. Try it. Bumbershoot. 

And then there were the sermons I heard every Sunday at The First Regular Baptist Church (Is there an Irregular Baptist Church in Opposite World? I hope so.) Those sermons with their mesmerizing cadences, their accusatory silences, their dramatic elisions, and their seductive whispers   crescendoing without warning into a barking shout terrified me, but they never failed to bring the penitent crawling to the altar. I’m willing to bet that even the most dissolute sinner among them would have resisted the call if she had read the sermon silently to herself.

Poetry (which I consider bumbershoot to be, by the way) especially needs the human voice. Consider, poet Steven Cramer as he paraphrases from Robert Pinsky’s The Sounds of Poetry “ . . . a poem is an instrument that plays us, using our bodies—breath, tongue, larynx, teeth, cave of our mouth cavity—to (re)create the sounds that are imminent in the poem’s words on the page.  In a way, a poem’s full energies aren’t fully released until it’s said.  And his [Pinsky’s] important corollary refutes the notion that poets have a special purchase on reading their own poems out loud effectively.  That may be true about spoken word poetry (an autonomous genre), but any “amateur”—if they read a poem with attention to its sounds—can put that poem over powerfully. “

In a way, a poem’s full energies aren’t fully released until it’s said. I love that. And it’s  especially true for the narrating voice in The Seventh Raven. Here is that voice on page 16 of the book.

And there’s hair in the milk
And a smell in the cheese
And a snake in Jack’s boot
And worms in the fruit
And a hole in Jane’s pail
And the rye starts to fail
Mold grows on the bread
And the kitten is dead
And there’s spot on the wheat
And rot in the goat
And bloat in the cow
And the thatch has turned black
And the axe bounces back
There are too many Jacks
There are too many Jacks
There are too many Jacks
There are too many Jacks 

Reading it silently, you know something is amiss at that cottage in the woods. But reading it aloud “with attention to its sounds,” allowing those two beats per line to drive you through to the insistent repetition of the last lines lets you feel the trouble. The difference is, say, between reading about a bee sting and actually getting one.

There are many other reasons to read aloud. It slows us down, giving us that most precious of gifts these days – time. And if like my acquaintance in the supermarket, you have the pleasure of reading with others, a friend, a partner, a family member, or with students in a classroom, the pleasure multiplies. 

Anyway, I hope you’ll try it. With my books, yes, but with any book. There is very little to lose, and a world of meaning to be gained.



Buy | Add on Goodreads

★ "Rich with evocative language.... Elliott (Voices) makes the propulsive mix of formal and concrete poetry and blank verse sparklingly accessible for teen readers, with repetitions and Cai’s (Elatsoe) inky illustrations weaving multiple narrators into a beautifully unified volume. Fans of lyrical retellings such as Malinda Lo’s Ash will find this bittersweet quest a warm welcome into myth and verse."
—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review
★ "Elliott brings emotional depth and poignant verse to the Grimms’ 'The Seven Ravens.' This beautifully evocative tale weaves different poetry forms to great effect, achieving short, intense bursts of emotion and deep, wandering musings on identity and fate. Cai’s haunting illustrations add context and visual interest to many of the poems. Although the setting and events may belong in a fairy-tale, the core emotions of this work draw straight from reality." 
School Library Journal, STARRED review
 "Elliott once again is a master at poetic form....Within the elegant construction is a simple story of best intentions that reap terrible consequences and a look at how we believe our wishes for others come from a place of altruism when it is more often selfishness."
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"A skillful use of verse; moral conundrums and strange plot twists offer even stronger draws." 

Best-selling author David Elliott examines the timeless themes of balance, transformation, and restoration in this evocative tale about a girl who will stop at nothing to reverse a curse that turned her seven brothers into ravens.

And these are the sons
Of good Jack and good Jane
The eldest is Jack
And the next one is Jack
And the third one’s called Jack
And the fourth’s known as Jack
And the fifth says he’s Jack
And they call the sixth Jack
But the seventh’s not Jack
The seventh is Robyn

And this is his story

When Robyn and his brothers are turned into ravens through the work of an unlucky curse, a sister is their only hope to become human again. Though she’s never met her brothers, April will stop at nothing to restore their humanity. But what about Robyn, who always felt a greater affinity to the air than to the earth-bound lives of his family?

David Elliott’s latest novel in verse explores the unintended consequences of our actions, no matter our intentions, and is filled with powerful messages teased from a Grimms’ fairy tale. Stunning black-and-white illustrations throughout by Rovina Cai.

Follow David: Facebook | Instagram | Youtube

About the Author: David Elliott is the award-winning author of more than twenty-five books for young people, including the picture books Finn Throws a Fit! and the New York Times best-selling And Here’s to You!. He is the author of the critically acclaimed verse novels, Bull, which received six starred reviews, and Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc, which was shortlisted for The American Library in Paris Book Award and is the recipient of the Claudia Lewis Award for poetry. A native of Ohio, David now lives (and writes) in New Hampshire with his wife and their Dandie Dinmont terrier, Quiggy. Learn more about David by visiting


  • One winner will receive copies of David Elliott's three YA verse novels: The Seventh Raven, Voices, and Bull
  • Check out the other tour stops for more chances to win
  • US/Canada only
  • Ends 11:59pm ET on 5/16

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Kirkus Best Book / Publishers Weekly Best Book / The Wall Street Journal Best Book

"Stunning . . . . elegant . . . . arresting . . . . supple and harrowing.” —Wall Street Journal

Bestselling author David Elliott explores how Joan of Arc changed the course of history and remains a figure of fascination centuries after her extraordinary life and death. Joan of Arc gets the Hamilton treatment in this evocative novel.

Told through medieval poetic forms and in the voices of the people and objects in Joan of Arc’s life, (including her family and even the trees, clothes, cows, and candles of her childhood), Voices offers an unforgettable perspective on an extraordinary young woman. Along the way it explores timely issues such as gender, misogyny, and the peril of speaking truth to power. Before Joan of Arc became a saint, she was a girl inspired. It is that girl we come to know in Voices. Now in paperback 3/2/21.


David Elliott turns a classic on its head: this rough and rowdy retelling of the Minotaur myth in verse will have readers reevaluating one of mythology's most infamous monsters.


Garnering six starred reviews, this update of the timeless story of Theseus and the Minotaur has been called “beautifully clever,” “a literary feast fit for the gods,” "powerful and engrossing," "irresistible, slick, and sharp," "a genre of its own," and "rude...crude, and it's a whole bunch of fun."

Resurrected from the dark depths of the labyrinth, this fresh, deliciously shocking, and darkly comedic novel-in-verse takes on the Theseus and Minotaur myth and shines a light on one of history's most infamous monsters.

Blog Tour Schedule:
May 3rd BookhoundsYA
May 4th — A Dream Within a Dream
May 5th — Book Briefs
May 6th — YA Books Central
May 7th — 
YA Book Nerd

1 comment:

Danielle H. said...

Paul Bunyan with his blue ox Babe is my favorite folktale.