Synopses & Reviews
Summer days drift by slowly in Meadville, South Carolina—that is, until Sherman the one-legged pigeon flies into town and causes a ruckus. First Stella, who's been begging for a dog, spots him on top of a garage roof and decides she wants him for a pet. Then there's Ethel and Amos, an old couple who sees the pigeon in their barn keeping company with a little brown dog that barks all night. The pigeon lands smack in the middle of Mutt Raynard's head, but he's the town liar, so no one believes him. And when Stella's brother Levi and his scabby-kneed, germ-infested friends notice the pigeon, they join the chase, too. Meanwhile, across town, Mr. Mineo has one less homing pigeon than he used to . . . Barbara O'Connor has delivered another ingeniously crafted story full of southern charm, kid-sized adventures, and quirky, unforgettable characters.
"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." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Barbara OConnor has written numerous books for young readers, including How to Steal a Dog, The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis, and most recently The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester. She lives in Duxbury, Massachusetts.
Reading Group Guide
1. Describe life in Meadville, South Carolina. Would you like to live there yourself or not? Why?
2. What do Stella and Gerald like to do together? What do you like to do with your best friend?
3. Why are Stellas good ideas often bad in the end? Why does Gerald go along with them anyway? Whats her plan?
4. Who is Mr. Mineo? Why is he so aggravated? How does he handle this feeling? How do you?
5. Describe Ethel and Amos. Why do they argue so much? Do they bicker over important things or not?
6. Explain why no one ever believes what Mutt Raynard says. Why is this suddenly a problem for him?
7. Who is Levi and why is he so mean to Stella and Gerald? Would you consider him a bully or not? Why? Whats the worst thing he does in the story? Whats the best way to deal with a bully?
8. Why is Ethel always waiting for Amos to fall asleep? What does she do?
9. List the things Mr. Mineo does to try to find Sherman (the pigeon). Which ones are the best ideas? Why?
10. Explain why each person who is looking for Sherman thinks he or she should have him. Who do
you want to find the bird? Why?
11. Luther and Edsel are best friends. What things do they like to do together? Are they looking for Sherman too?
12. What does Stella really want more than anything? Will Sherman be able to fill that spot for her or not? Why?
13. Why do you think Ethel looks forward to seeing the pigeon and the dog so much each day? What do you most
look forward to at the end of your day?
14. How do things escalate (or get really intense) between Levi and his friends and Gerald and Stella? What would you do about it?
15. Do all of these characters know one another? What do they all have in common? What makes them different?
16. Do you think Amos would get along well with Mr. Mineo or not? Explain why you think what you do, using
examples from the book to back up your argument.
17. Where does the pigeon spend time? Does he stay? Are you disappointed or relieved when he escapes? Why? What helps Sherman escape each time?
18. Who do you think would take the best care of Sherman besides Mr. Mineo? When do you think Sherman is in the greatest danger? Who absolutely does not deserve to have him? Why?
19. How do all the characters finally meet? What happens when they do? In the end, what happens? Are you surprised by the ending or not?
20. Which scene is your favorite? Why? Which character would you most like to go on a picnic with out at the lake? Why?