Budding naturalists who dug We Dig Worms! (2015) will, well, coo over this similarly enlightening accolade.
A curmudgeonly park visitor’s “They’re RATS with wings!” sparks spirited rejoinders from a racially diverse flock of children wearing full-body bird outfits, who swoop down to deliver a mess of pigeon facts. Along with being related to the dodo, “rock doves” fly faster than a car, mate for life, have been crossbred into all sorts of “fancies,” inspired Pablo Picasso to name his daughter “Paloma” in their honor, can be eaten (“Tastes like chicken”), and, like penguins and flamingos, create “pigeon milk” in their crops for their hatchlings. Painted on light blue art paper—“the kind,” writes McCloskey in his afterword, “used by Picasso”—expertly depicted pigeons of diverse breeds common and fancy strut their stuff, with views of the children and other wild creatures, plus occasional helpful labels, interspersed. In the chastened parkgoer’s eyes, as in those of the newly independent readers to whom this is aimed, the often maligned birds are “wonderful.” Cue a fresh set of costumed children on the final page, gearing up to set him straight on squirrels.
Another feather in McCloskey’s cap. (Graphic informational early reader. 5-7)