Grandmother's Pigeon

by Louise Erdrich and Jim LaMarche

"As it turned out, Grandmother was a far more mysterious woman than any of us knew,"... read more

"As it turned out, Grandmother was a far more mysterious woman than any of us knew," muses the granddaughter whose first-person narrative introduces a mysterious story. This understatement introduces an ingeniously developed character whom readers never meet directly. Because Grandmother has a reputation for singular adventures, her son and his family with whom she makes her home assume she is safe even though she's been away for a year. Now noises can be heard coming from her room. They decide to enter Grandmother's hitherto undisturbed room and immediately sense her personality everywhere. They see everything as grandmother had left it, including her stuffed pigeon on a plaster roost. Grandmother had collected birds' nests, one of which contains three eggs, three hatching eggs. "Ectopistes migratorius," declares the ornithologist summoned to view the anomaly. Baby passenger pigeons! LaMarche's full-color paintings burst with the essence of a full, distinctive life. Erdrich's beautifully measured text meshes perfectly with LaMarche's quiet palette. They unfold an exquisite, gentle, open-ended modern tale with such a compelling narrative voice and visual images so real that astonished readers also feel involved in the family's ethical dilemma. Can an individual be known through the objects with which she surrounds herself? Should every inexplicable event automatically become the property of scientists, of the press? Do wonder and the suspension of disbelief have intrinsic value in and of themselves? Although the story is ended, the questions can begin. Honor Book, 1996 CCBC Newbery Award Discussion; Honor Book, 1996 CCBC Caldecott Award Discussion (Ages 6-11)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1996

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