Book: Pigeon P.I.
Author: Meg McLaren
Age Range: 4-7
Pigeon P.I. by Meg McLaren is a hardboiled picture book mystery in which the characters are all birds. Private Investigator Murray MacMurray, a pigeon, is taking things easy following the departure of his partner. But then a little yellow canary shows up, trying to get Murray interested in the disappearance of a number of birds (and the canary's own near-capture). The jaded Murray rebuffs "the kid", but when he later learns that the canary is missing, he is on the case.
Pigeon P.I. is filled with old time P.I. novel tropes, from Murray's fedora to his gruff attitude to the thief's hideout being "the Red Herring Bar and Grill." There are phrases like "it looked like my wings were clipped for good" and "sticking your beak where it doesn't belong" that extend the noir style to the bird community. All of this offers tremendous fun for me, a long-time fan of P.I. stories.
But I think that the Pigeon P.I. will work for young kids, too, even if they are less versed in noir. The end pages feature a handy "Beginner's Guide to Private Investigation", from different types of detecting hats to a ranking of different snacks for stakeouts to a series of general tips. These are illustrated with humorous images of the little canary asking things like "Am I a clue?" The interior illustrations are also full of detail to reward close reading, from old newspaper articles on the wall of Murray's hideout to descriptions of missing birds on milk cartons. There's a fun bit in which the police are on a big case that seems to involve nothing more than eating donuts (which are quite large relative to the birds, adding to the visual humor).
There are little jokes. Like this:
"Have you seen this canary? We suspect she has been bird-napped by a cream ring." (says an officious police bird)
"A crime ring, Sarge." (adds a smaller assistant police bird)
In short, Pigeon P.I. is total kid-friendly (and adult-friendly) fun, and a perfect introduction to the old-style private eye genre. This would be a great book for kids to read prior to launching into the various chapter book mystery series (A to Z Mysteries, etc.). Highly recommended, and sure to become a family favorite in my house.
Publisher: Clarion Books (@HMHKids)
Publication Date: October 3, 2017
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
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