Saturday, May 30, 2009
Looking After Pigeon
I just finished Looking After Pigeon by Maud Carol Markson this morning on the couch. This story is told from Pigeon's point of view, a five year old who deals with her dad abandoning her family, as best as anyone can deal with abandonment. She still has her mom, who sucks at being a human, her big sister Dove, who is the beauty of the family and turns from 15 to 17 years old in the span of 5 months (oopsy daisy), and her brother Robin, a 10 year old who becomes a fortune teller.
The family tries to get it together by moving in with their gay uncle in his beach house in New Jersey. In my mind Uncle Edward was a red-headed Robert Downey Jr. "Home for the Holidays" Robert Downey Jr., not "Tropic Thunder" Robert Downey Jr.
I liked that Pigeon's story was not told in a cutesy, stereotyped 5 year old way. When they flee their apartment, the mom tells the kids to pack only what is essential, and finds Pigeon's suitcase the next day full of rocks, ticket stubs, birthday cards, and other odds and ends instead of clothes and a toothbrush. Later in the story Pigeon, who is always left alone, builds families out of people she cuts out of catalogues. Little details like these made the story ring true to me and reminded me of what I was like at 5. Only my life was happier.
I loved these parts:
It was true; I was a bit of a crybaby. But I had less control over my tears than I did over hunger or thirst or the need to use the toilet. It was a bodily function. Just like when the doctor hit my knee with his hammer, and my leg jerked up in response, crying was a reflex that occurred whether I willed it to or not.
I listened to the Mamas and the Papas singing "California Dreamin" and then the Beatles' "Yellow Submarine."
"We would be warm below the storm in our little hideaway beneath the sea," Ringo sang.
I felt oddly comforted by the words, as if there really were a yellow submarine out there waiting to emerge from the sea, swallowing me up, and then submerging again.
The other cool detail that made this story become authentic is that it is written by grown-up Pigeon in one sitting. It's only 192 pages long so it really seems like she just sat down and out it all came.
The more I read, the more it seemed that the family truly existed. I wanted to kick out the mom and take care of the little birds myself. In their beach house of course.
Also there were several delightful bird puns. puns + me = good times
I got this book from the Early Reviewer program on LibraryThing. I love getting free books, especially when they are as good as this.
I think this picture by Emily Martin is cuter than the cover. It's hanging up in my scrapbook room, a birthday present from The Gillinghams.