A scorned, humble Baltimore City pigeon works hard to feed his family.
Ray toils long hours hunting the streets for treasures to appease his boss, Jim, so he can provide breadcrumbs for his loving wife and daughter. It’s a dangerous life—kicks from unkind humans aren’t uncommon. Ray envies his neighbor, a carrier pigeon, who lives in a wooden house and eats lavishly. But Ray can’t hide who he is: not an angelic white dove, but a working-class rat with wings. In a moment’s notice he can fly away, though, escape his rotten life and forget all his worries. Fortunately, kids won’t get the wrong message from this book, Hobson’s first. Our hero, a family bird, knows the right thing to do in the end. The narrator urges readers to remember Ray’s story before they disparage another pigeon. The protagonist, part of a breed that’s rarely romanticized, is an unusual but apt choice for an emblem. It’s a sweet moral; one that can be extended to all beings. And it’s not the only lesson. “Why can’t people see past the dull colors of black and grey?” laments Ray, suggesting a racial undertone to the plot. The author writes in verse, and some rhymes detract from the overall story. A few of them are just plain contrived: The “carrier pigeon Rob” eats “corn on the cob.” In other instances, illogical words and phrases seem placed in sentences for the sole purpose of maintaining meter. Hobson’s painted cover illustrations are beautiful, but the gray-hued pictures within the book disappear against a poorly contrasting brown background.
Despite aesthetic faults, a cute story that expresses an important life lesson—treat others the way you want to be treated—from a unique point of view.