A book that gets my pity for pigeons

My family thinks I am bonkers because I always get sad when I see scruffy pigeons pecking for food in city centres. I get close to tears because I think that life has offered them a raw deal. Society thinks they’re pests and maybe they are but seriously – would you want to spend your life huddled on top of dirty buildings and relying on dropped food to just survive? I wish I could scoop them up and transfer them to a nice environment – a grassy glade or picturesque countryside where they could at least live in prettier surroundings.

It was wonderful, therefore, to read that a woman with a similar heart adopts an injured pigeon and his friend in Swapna Haddow’s hilarious book Dave Pigeon.


What it’s about:

Dave and Skipper meet on a crumb hunt and make friends over bits of croissant a Human Lady drops for them. Unfortunately, Mean Cat is hiding in the Human Lady’s basket and leaps out, injuring Dave and rendering him unable to fly. Human Lady wraps up Dave in a smelly sock and takes him back to her garden shed to recover, and offers to look after Skipper too in the process. In fact, Human Lady is the one who names the two pigeons (after a boy she knows wants to call Skipper ‘Toilet’ because he smells like the toilet after his grandfather has used it). Dave and Skipper work together to share their TOP SECRET ideas on how they defeated Mean Cat so that pigeons everywhere can remain safe. So, cats beware!

The verdict

Swapna Haddow’s novel won the Greenhouse Funny Prize in 2014 and it’s easy to see how. The writing is full of humour and jokes, and the plan is any enough to delight its target reading age (5-8 years old). Frequent interjections by the arguing pigeons are comical, as are Sheena Dempsey’s illustrations. These two pigeons certainly have character – bags of the stuff – and their silliness will have children in fits of laughter. It was a pleasure for me to read about pigeons who had a good life rather than shivering miserably on street corners. I’ll be taking this book into my school library next week to share with the children; I can see that it will be a popular choice!

And the good news is there’s a sequel coming in February 2017. Go, pigeons, go!!!



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