Grandmother’s Pigeon by Louise Erdrich, illustrations by Jim LaMarche. University of Minnesota Press, c1996, 2021. 9781517911478
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: Magic realism/picture book
What did you like about the book? A family’s mysterious grandmother has taken off for Greenland on a porpoise. She is gone so long that they enter her bedroom, discovering many treasures there. When three long-abandoned eggs in a nest actually hatch in front of their eyes, they are astounded. They are even more amazed when the hatchlings turn out to be passenger pigeons, which became extinct in 1914! There is a media frenzy around the discovery of the birds, but the family decides that the best thing to do is to release them into the wild. A message attached to the leg of one pigeon brings a response: Grandmother made it to Greenland and misses them all.
This longer picture book is a fun read for older readers, containing quite a bit more text than the usual for the target audience. Erdrich’s wry humor is present in the language, and LaMarche’s lovely realistic art contains lots of details to support the text.
Anything you didn’t like about it? The style of art and the feel of the story are dated, as it was originally published 25 years ago. A quick search didn’t reveal why the University of Minnesota chose to republish the book. Perhaps they are celebrating a book by a prolific Minnesota author.
To whom would you recommend this book? For ages 5-7, especially families who enjoy a bit of a mystery with a longer picture book.
Who should buy this book? This is a supplemental purchase for elementary school and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA
Date of review: December 20, 2021