Review of Grandmother's Pigeon

Grandmother’s Pigeon
by Louise Erdrich; illus. by Jim LaMarche
Primary, Intermediate    University of Minnesota Press   32 pp.    g
9/21    978-1-5179-1147-8    $17.95

“As it turned out, Grandmother was a far more mysterious woman than any of us knew,” begins this enigmatic and enjoyable picture book by Erdrich (The Birchbark House, rev. 5/99, and sequels), first published in 1996. With a page-turn, the grandmother is now shown in a motion-filled, sea-set spread, sailing away on the back of a porpoise. A year passes without Grandmother, and while the family members are going through her things, they find her birds’ nest collection. In one lies three eggs; the birds hatch and are identified as passenger pigeons — an extinct species. This leads to many questions — where did the creatures come from? where should they go? — but Grandmother’s grandchildren know what to do. Realistic-looking illustrations ground the story in naturalism, while inventive — and unexplained — details allow the inquisitive young people, with their ever-changing facial expressions, to honor their grandmother’s wishes.

From the January/February 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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