Hampson takes a stab at encouraging fellow feeling between pigeons and people.
The story starts with a small cabal of big-city pigeons grousing that they don’t get much respect. They know humans hate them, but they don’t seem to understand why—though Reich’s illustrations, which display a variety of responses to pigeons, hint at the reasons. Dr. Coo rouses the others by recounting their great history as carriers of messages and symbols of peace. Their worth validated, the pigeons decide to prove it to the humans by hiding from the city folk. With no pigeons, the city is an eerie place, and those who liked feeding the birds miss them. A petition is delivered to the mayor demanding respect in return for the pigeons’ coordination in pooping activities—the first textual mention of this bone of human-pigeon contention—and arguing that pigeons are a valuable part of the city’s diversity. Despite lofty intentions, this story simply doesn’t provide much more than poop entertainment. The interactions among the pigeons are arch and mannered, and at least one joke (about millennials) will fly over the audience’s heads. Dr. Coo’s history lesson notwithstanding, many will feel that feral city pigeons are misidentified as unjustly marginalized.
There is a reason an overexplosion of pigeons rattles many feathers, and this tale doesn’t dispel it. (Picture book. 4-8)