Anthony Briggs has many reasons to hate pigeons, including the fact that the class bully has been calling him Pidge for years, but when studying them could earn him an overnight at the natural history museum, he learns to appreciate the creatures.
Anthony, a black New Yorker, dinosaur enthusiast, fantasy comic-book creator, and leg brace–wearing kid with Blount’s disease, wavers over whether or not to join the Science Squad but decides that even though it means studying “garbage-eating rat-birds,” he wants the museum overnight badly enough to do it. His friend Jasmine joins, but so does Jasmine’s other friend, Ivy, and the class bully, TJ, who never misses an opportunity to pick on Anthony. When everyone partners up to collect data in pairs, guess whom Anthony is left to work with? It’s not all bad though. After some difficult moments, Anthony learns not to shrink when ridiculed, and he learns that sometimes people lash out because they’re upset over something else. Anthony works hard to earn the Science Squad badges, and he becomes protective of a pigeon with a bum leg who reminds him of his own vulnerability. Anthony is a likable character who name-checks familiar books in his chatty narrative, and his classmates are a mirror of New York’s diversity. However, the journal conceit is a thinly veiled attempt to dump science information into readers, so the book will succeed best with true science enthusiasts.
A science book with just enough story to it. (note on urban bird-watching, glossary, bibliography) (Fiction. 8-12)