Review of Johnny's Pheasant

Johnny’s Pheasant
by Cheryl Minnema; illus. by Julie Flett
Primary    Minnesota    32 pp.    g
11/19    978-1-5179-0501-9    $16.95

Minnema (a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe) and Flett (of Cree-Métis descent) present an engaging and humorous intergenerational story of patience, hope, and surprise. Johnny spots a motionless pheasant in a ditch near the road while he and Grandma are driving back from the store. They transport the bird home with different motivations: Johnny believes it is still alive; Grandma thinks she can use its feathers for her craftwork. At home, Johnny gathers sticks and supplies to make a proper nest for the creature while Grandma waits him out. To their amazement, the bird rouses, cries out (“Hoot! Hoot!”), and flutters through the room, alighting on Grandma’s head before flying out the door. A dropped feather inspires creative play for the child (he zigs and zags through the yard, arms outstretched; “Hoot! Hoot!”) and is also a gift for Grandma. The down-to-earth and steadily paced text centers on the dialogue between characters, which adds humor and drives the plot. A vertical, isometric-esque view is used in the textured, pattern-filled illustrations, and neutral tones abound. The story arc focuses on the pheasant’s dramatic resurrection, but the tender and playful relationship between grandmother and grandchild is a shining constant.

From the January/February 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

Elisa Gall

Elisa Gall is a teacher-librarian at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools. 

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