Pigeon & Cat: The Power of Friendship

Pigeon & Cat

Pigeon & Cat (Little, Brown, 2022) by Edward Hemingway.

Meet Pigeon & Cat

Cat is an anti-social stray. He lives in a box located on a vacant lot and only leaves to search for food. Things change when Cat rescues an unbroken egg (“to pretty to eat”) from a nest that was blown out of the tree.

When Pigeon hatches, they become fast friends. Through speech bubbles, Cat speaks in words, and Pigeon “tweets” in emojis. As their caring friendship blossoms, Cat’s heart starts to open up. Adventurous Pigeon flies through the city, bringing back gifts of chalk and other colorful objects, which Cat uses to transform the brick wall of the lot “into something beautiful.”Cat the Artist

When Pigeon doesn’t come home, Cat is forced to leave the vacant lot to find his friend. As he travels through the city (filled with other anthropomorphized cats and dogs), he comes to realize the city isn’t as scary as he thought. And as he leaves emoji messages and tributes to his lost friend on buildings, streets, and sidewalks, the city starts to look more like home. But where is Pigeon?

Who Will Enjoy Pigeon & Cat

Pigeon & Cat is perfect for the intended audience of Ages 4-8. The heartwarming story combined with the lively illustrations will keep readers and nonreaders alike engaged. And Pigeon’s adorable emoji tweets will be easily understood and enjoyed by all.

Why You’ll Fall in Love with This Book

Cat & Pigeon silhouetteFirst of all, the oil-on-board illustrations in this book are fabulous and provide lots to explore beyond the basic storyline. Plus, the variation of illustrations, including different perspectives, nighttime silhouettes, circle drawings, and spot art, creates a dynamic reading experience. Colors are also expertly used to enhance the story. For example, color helps define the characters’ views of the world: Pigeon sees the world in bright colors, whereas Cat lives in a world of dull browns. Color is also used to reflect Cat’s metamorphosis, changing from a muted palette to a world of bright, vibrant colors.

Finally, Pigeon & Cat includes important messages (without being didactic) about the transformative power of friendship and art and the importance of community building and inclusivity. And while it has not received any awards, School Library Journal gave it a starred review.

Using Pigeon & Cat in Curriculum

Pigeon & Cat provides an excellent opportunity to bring urban renewal to the classroom through discussion and action. Projects might include ways to beautify the classroom, the playground, or the surrounding community. The same would be true for ways to make the classroom and community more inclusive. Another fun activity would be to have students write out and decipher emoji messages. With younger children, emoji punch outs could be glued on to paper. Moreover, the high energy illustrations could be used for games like I Spy (I Spy a hat) or counting (how many cats can you find on this page?).

What to Read Next

Looking for stories about unusual friendships? Check out A Sick Day for Amos McGee (Roaring Brook, 2010) written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Erin E. Stead. Amos has a busy job working at the zoo, but he always makes time to visit his good friends, Elephant, Tortoise, Penguin, Rhinoceros, and Owl. When Amos wakes up sick and and doesn’t show up at the zoo, he receives some unexpected visitors.

Farfallina & MarcelYou might also like Farfallina & Marcel (HarperCollins 2005) by Holly Keller. Farfallina is a caterpillar, and Marcel is a gosling. They like playing the same games and are best friends. But one day, everything changes. Will Farfallina and Marcel’s friendship survive?

The Circus ShipIf you like stories about unusual friendship AND love the illustrations in Pigeon & Cat, consider The Circus Ship (Candlewick, 2009) by Chris Van Dusen (of Mercy Watson fame). When a circus ship wrecks off the coast of Maine, all the animals make it to the shore of a small island. Although wary at first, the villagers and circus refugees become friends, and when the greedy circus owner comes back, everyone works together to outsmart him!

Another lovely book about friendship is A Friend Like You (Sleeping Bear Press, 2021) written by Frank Murphy and Charnaie Gordon, illustrated by Kayla Harren. You can read my review here.

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