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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-09-03
- Reviewer: Staff
A one-legged pigeon stirs up summer excitement in the town of Meadville, S.C., in this characteristically atmospheric story from O’Connor (The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester). Spirited Stella is the first to spy the pigeon, and she is determined to make him her pet (something her parents have refused her in the past). She enlists the reluctant help of her best friend Gerald, who prefers quiet card games to Stella’s elaborate and generally ill-advised adventures. But with Stella’s older brother, Levi; his “scabby kneed, germ-infested friends”; and Mutt Raynard, Meadville’s version of the boy who cried wolf, also on the pigeon’s trail, the hunt is on. O’Connor’s understated third-person narration moves languidly among the children (and some adults) in town—including Mr. Mineo, the homing pigeon’s actual owner—in a story that beautifully captures the feel of a small Southern town and its residents. Friendship and sibling dynamics get heated at times, but O’Connor’s light touch keeps the story buoyant, leading up to an ending as satisfying as a cold glass of iced tea on a hot summer afternoon. Ages 8–12. (Oct.)
A one-legged pigeon seeks adventure
This gem of a story, covering eight days in a sleepy small-town summer, has an unusual central character: a one-legged homing pigeon named Sherman who has gone missing from Mr. Mineo’s flock.
While on the lam, Sherman is spotted by many folks. Stella and her friend Gerald want a pet. Amos and Ethel Roper enjoy arguing about the bird. Mutt is enthralled that the silly pigeon seems attracted to his head and that everyone thinks he is making up the story. And the unnamed sweet brown dog only wants a friend.
All these stories twist and turn into each other like the footpaths of a small town. Where will it all end up? Just where it should: The brown dog finds a home (and a name: Harvey) with Stella, Mutt’s story is proved true, Sherman finds his girl pigeon and everyone has a soda at the bait shop.
Barbara O’Connor’s gift in storytelling is her restraint. Holding back allows the reader to fill in a bit, making the story more personal. Her talents make On the Road to Mr. Mineo’s an unforgettable trip.