Ow and the Crystal Clear is a beautiful children’s picture book published in 1979 by Dawne-Leigh Publications. It was written by Betty Kane and illustrated by Tracy Holocomb. The illustrations are one of the best parts of this book, each one could be a painting in it’s own right. As a child, this was one of my absolute favorite books. I would pour over the pictures and have it read to me again and again. I always felt an affinity to Ow, and delighted in his adventure.
The story is about the metamorphosis of a misguided little gnome named Ow. The beginning of the book describes Ow as a lonely little gnome living under a toad stool at the edge of a forest. His favorite pastime is sneaking into town and attempting to get attention by playing pranks on the village people. He creeps up on the unsuspecting baker and pinches him until he cries out “Ow!” Ow likes hearing his name echo through the town. Ow seems to get some sordid sense of comfort from hearing his name like this. There is however, one problem. There is a small girl who lives at the edge of town, named Christina. Christina is sick and spends her days in bed, reading and drawing, and playing games. Ow tries to pinch her, and get her to say his name. But she won’t do it. Her face might get red, and tears come into her eyes-but she will not cry out. This caused Ow a great deal of grief, and he returns to his toadstool more sad and alone than ever.
It is there, in his clearing, that Ow hears something strange. Peering out he sees a group of gnomes, singing and dancing, and gathering in a circle in the woods. Ow creeps closer and closer until before he knows it he is in the middle of their circle, their kind, open faces gazing down at him.
The band of lithe, graceful gnomes take Ow with them on a journey into the mountains. The journey is long and arduous, and they arrive just before the sun begins to rise. In the mountains they weave the last moonbeams and first sunbeams into crystals of all colors. These the gnomes bury deep within the earth.
The experience of participating in something so magical, working together with the other gnomes leaves Ow feeling proud and happy. He thinks back regretfully on all the spiteful things he has done in his life. Then he remembers Christina, the little girl he tortured who did nothing but smile and sing. Tucking away a small piece of crystal, he carries it to her home and leaves it on her bed-stand. Contented, he returns home to his toadstool.