After a brief pause that lasted longer than anticipated, I’m happy to be back and to share this recently-published Perfect Picture Book. Regular readers may notice that one of the themes is a recurrent one for me: home. Given that I’m about to embark on the third move of 2022, I guess neither I, nor you, should be surprised that I return to this theme so often.
Title: Pigeon & Cat
Written & Illustrated By: Edward Hemingway
Publisher/Date: Christy Ottaviano Books, an imprint of Little Brown & Co/2022
Suitable for Ages: 4-8
Themes/Topics: friendship, creativity, home, community, compassion
In an abandoned city lot there sits a cardboard box. Inside the box lives Cat.
Brief Synopsis: Cat and Pigeon become unlikely friends and roommates. When Pigeon flies away, Cat leaves the only home he has ever known, faces his fears, and sets off in search of his friend.
Links to Resources:
- Cat uses materials that Pigeon finds to creatively decorate the city lot where they live. Use materials you find to decorate your home. What will you make?
- Make your mark by participating in International Dot Day and creating your special dot;
- Discover ways to help your community by weeding or planting in a community garden, cleaning up a park, contributing to a food or clothing drive, or visiting a senior facility;
- Use only symbolic pictures to tell a story, as Pigeon does and as the ancient Egyptians did with Hieroglyphics.
Why I Like this Book:
The first things that drew me to this book were the old-time cartoony features of the main characters, the retro color palate combined with what looks to be an emoji on the book jacket, and the title – I wanted to know what a book with such an unlikely pair of characters was about.
At the outset, we meet Cat, who lives in a cardboard box, the one set off to the side of the first spread. It’s clear he’s alone, set in his ways, and wary of others. But as he says, the lot is “his home and his alone.” (emphasis in the original). But when Cat finds an egg and Pigeon hatches from it, Cat discovers a friend.
As their friendship grows, Pigeon gifts Cat discarded treasures, which spark Cat’s creativity. Readers see the lot begin to transform, even as we feel Cat’s solitary heart begin to embrace beauty and the joys of friendship.
But when Pigeon goes missing, Cat’s true transformation begins. He ventures out into the scary city to find his friend, only to discover that the city isn’t as scary and noisy and awful as he had imagined. What a wonderful message for kids of all ages who fear the unknown!
I won’t spoil the ending, but I will recommend that you compare the first and last spreads after you finish reading to discover the transformative power of friendship, creativity, and community.
Hemingway created the detailed illustrations with oil on board with hand-cut paper and Photoshop. The textured backdrops as well as the inclusion of emoji-like speech bubbles and artwork adds to the appeal of this poignant picture book that, I think, kids of all ages will love.
A Note about Craft:
Hemingway deftly combines the old with the new in Pigeon & Cat. In addition to a soft palette of yellows, oranges, and aquas that brought to mind the 1960s and 70s, Cat wears a bowler hat and suspenders. Pigeon, on the other hand, speaks in what appear to be emojis. The use of small, emoji-like pictures to translate Pigeon’s speech has the effect of making Pigeon seem youthful, which he is, and also caused at least this reader to pay closer attention to the detailed illustrations.
Hemingway also uses present tense, rather than the usual past tense found in picture books. I felt closer to the action because of this, similar to the effect of first-person point-of-view.
This Perfect Picture Book entry is being added to Susanna Hill’s Perfect Picture Book list. Check out the other great picture books featured there!