Passenger pigeon hatchlings, thought to be extinct, are discovered in Grandmother's room after she departs on a voyage to Greenland
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The mystical and the natural blend superbly in this first children's book by the accomplished literary novelist Louise Erdrich. The eccentric, well-traveled grandmother of two young kids decamps in mid-vacation, riding a porpoise to Greenland and leaving behind a trove of strange treasures and artifacts including a collection of bird's nests and three old eggs which hatch, marvelously, into passenger pigeons. Erdrich wields her Native American ancestry and her worldiness--Grandmother owns an original Klee--to give young readers a sense of the world's wonders and the wisdom of the elders, the old wisdom of the natural cycles that we are losing. A letter from Grandmother, promising to return, winds up this fetching tale.From Booklist:
Ages 5^-8. Children reside in the world of magic realism, and this offering by adult books author Erdrich will both tantalize them and make them feel utterly at home. An unnamed narrator and her brother delight in their grandmother, who, as it turns out, "is far more mysterious than any of us knew." She disappears on a trip to Greenland--aboard a porpoise's back. When it seems that Grandmother won't be returning, the family reluctantly decides they must clear out her room. Small and cluttered, the room holds everything from a petrified buffalo's tooth to a painting by Paul Klee. But the family is most taken by a bird's nest that holds three small eggs. And then they hatch. To the family's amazement, an ornithologist tells them that the baby pigeons are members of an extinct species that flew in flocks numbering in the millions. Once the news leaks out, the curious descend. The birds grow dull and tired, and the family decides to let them fly free, albeit with a message tied to one's leg. In perhaps the most predictable part of the story, the message is answered by Grandmother, who has finally arrived in Greenland and will be returning home after all. That's the plot, but perhaps what is more important is the book's feeling. Besides the sense of the unexpected that permeates every page is the freshness of the language. The sentence structure is elegant, and since one quality of elegance is simplicity, the writing is never over children's heads. That same spirit is found in the acrylic and colored-pencil artwork that always seems to find its focus in the faces of the children yet mixes everyday bits and pieces with the elusive air of enchantment. Like the pigeons, this is a rare bird--a book that evokes wonder, in both its meanings. Ilene Cooper
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Book Description Hyperion, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0786812044
Book Description Hyperion, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110786812044