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 acting editor in chief / executive editor 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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