Pigeon & Cat (Edward Hemingway)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Pigeon & Cat by Edward Hemingway, a heartwarming tale of emotional connection.

Cat lives alone in an empty lot in the big city, inside a cardboard box. He has a few essentials, and regularly scavenges for food in the trash bins when he’s hungry. He keeps one eye open when he sleeps, so that he can keep other strays from nosing around his empty lot. It isn’t much, but it’s Cat’s home, and he is fairly content with it. Until the day he finds an unbroken egg in a downed bird’s nest, out from which pecks a baby pigeon. Cat is immediately taken with the tiny bird, and expands his small existence to care for her. In turn, Pigeon cares for him by bringing treasures from around the city every day once she is strong enough to fly. That is, until the day that Pigeon fails to make it home before dark. Dreadfully worried, Cat doesn’t hesitate to leave the lot he’s always known to search for his missing friend… but will he find her in a city so big, and filled with so many strangers?

Touching. Hemingway uses approachable text, evocative art, and a unique gimmick (Pigeon speaks only in emoji “tweets”, something that young readers will undoubtably enjoy) to tackle a surprisingly layered story on emotional connection. Using the classic framework of a character separation narrative, Hemingway tackles surface themes of opening oneself up to others and making connections across languages and other barriers. Yet dig a little deeper, and more complex themes also come into play, including homelessness, poverty, community support, and even art as communication and therapy. It’s deft, engaging, and honestly quite beautiful. Hemingway populates his world with charming animal characters, and while the realities of being unhoused are certainly sanitized here, what’s striking is that the “strays” are never portrayed as pitiable or “less than” for their situation; they are, in fact, humanized (for lack of a better term), something rarely done in portrayals of the homeless in media. Otherwise, the length was great, and JJ and both really enjoyed this story of kindness and friendship. A sweet and affecting tale, and we loved it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

Coat Of Many Colors (Dolly Parton)

Hello, friends! Today’s review is Coat Of Many Colors, written by Dolly Parton (based on the lyrics of her 1971 song of the same name) and illustrated by Brooke Boynton-Hughes.  

A little girl’s mother is given a box of small fabric scraps, and begins to make the girl a winter coat using the tiny pieces of fabric. The girl’s parents have many children and money is tight, but as the mother lovingly sews the garment, we see the closeness and joy the family shares despite their meager surroundings. While the coat is being sewn, the mother tells the girl the biblical story of Joseph and sings her songs, and the girl watches as her mother carefully makes each stitch to last. When the coat is finished, she is excited to wear it to school – but when she arrives, some of the children make fun of her patchwork clothing. The girl is hurt at first, but refuses to let the taunts of the children spoil the coat for her. She tells the other children that the coat is a symbol of her mother’s love and dedication to her children and, as such, she is proud of her coat of many colors.

We’ve read a lot of song-lyrics-as-picture-books in the last year, and I must say, this is probably the one that we enjoyed the most. Parton’s song translates perfectly to kidlit form: the lyrics truly tell a story, and it leaves a powerful message about family and the value of kindness and love over material wealth. It’s also a very touching testament to motherly love in both tangible and intangible form. The art in this version is charming, showing vibrant warmth and joy on every page. The length is great, and JJ and I both really enjoyed it. This one is a must for Dolly fans, but is also perfect for showing all little readers that money is not the mark of true wealth; sometimes, it’s a simple coat, made with a mother’s love. Baby Bookworm approved!