New to city living, Swanda (olive-skinned and espresso-haired) installs a feeding station on her fire escape, unaware of the teeming, cooing hordes that will instantly (and incessantly) descend from the skies, leaving their marks on the neighbors and sidewalks below.
Readers come face to beak with Swanda’s predicament in a startling double-page spread: a sea of birds, feathers, and yellow marble eyes. The freaky flock advances, unblinking, right off the page, bobbing dumbly in that mildly unnerving, pugilistic pigeon-y fashion. Vibrant pastels describe both multitudes of pigeon grays and also the vibrancy of city life, saturated with colors, cultures, accents, and activities. Expansive full-bleed spreads capture both urban density and verticality. Buildings, brickwork, and wry sidewalk vignettes fill both pages and readers’ imaginations. Swanda’s neighbors, with their beards, hair rollers, smiles, admonitions, dogs, pearls, cat’s-eye glasses, and bowler, Rastafarian, and Hasidic hats, are what people might call real New Yorkers, who together represent an articulate, authentic vision of an interconnected city. Their resounding, choral shout up to her apartment window comes booming in the delightful local dialect: “SWANDA, YOU GOTTA STOP FEEDIN’ DA BOIDS!”
The exclamation begs for read-alouds and invites children from Oklahoma or Alabama to try out their best New York accents and for a minute feel part of the big city. (Picture book. 4-8)