Coo by Kaela Noel, a middle-grade tale, tells the story of a girl raised by pigeons. It’s a sweet story; by the end of it, you too will want to learn pigeon-language. I guarantee you’ll never see pigeons in quite the same way again.

A flock of pigeons in New York finds a baby abandoned on a doorstep. They grab her blankets and lift her up to the rooftop where they live in a dovecote, a little structure on the roof of the factory building. The pigeons forage for their little human, feeding her doughnuts from a dumpster. She speaks their pigeon language, which has its own unusual way of arranging words, and never leaves the roof. In fact, she’s afraid to leave the roof. In the winter she curls up in a pile of newspapers and with a blanket of birds who keep her warm.

Ten years pass. She’s growing, and now she’s hungry all the time. The birds can’t find all the food she needs and also feed themselves.

And then …

One particular bird, Burr, is the one who urged the flock to adopt her in the first place and has always taken care of her. One day a hawk attacks, and Burr is injured. Birds this bad off generally die. Coo is heartsick.

But then she remembers that there is a human who comes to feed the flock sometimes in the alley below, and this person has taken sick birds in the past and returned them well. Coo resolves to get down off the roof and hand Burr over. It’s so hard and scary, but she does it.

This begins another part of the story, where the woman Tully rescues Coo from nakedness and cold and gradually tames her. It helps that Burr lives with Tully too, his broken wing in a knitted sling. There are some funny scenes, particularly Coo’s first trip to the supermarket. A nosy social worker and a reporter round out Tully’s associates–do these people spell trouble for Coo? Then, some health workers decide to start poisoning pigeons, and things get urgent.

It’s a good, sweet story about a brave girl and the people and animals she loves. I like the pigeon language the best. Example: “Go down now, you.” “How? Can’t fly, me.”

This book is great for anyone who can read or listen to it. There are no controversial issues to discern.

I’ll give it five stars. *****

Check out the review of Coo on our Youtube channel, Bringing Up Booklovers. It includes an author interview!

Short Story by Phyllis Wheeler

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