Story: Andrew McDonald
Art: Ben Wood
What They Say
What do REAL PIGEONS do? They fight crime, of course! Wait, what? You didn’t know your town is protected by a secret squad of crime-fighting feathered friends? Well, you are about to get schooled. REAL PIGEONS solve mysteries! REAL PIGEONS fight bad guys! And REAL PIGEONS won’t stop until your neighborhood is safe and the questions are all answered: Like, why have all the breadcrumbs disappeared? And which food truck smells the best?
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
This book is kind of an advanced picture book. It’s divided into chapters but contains more illustrations than a chapter book and relies heavily on those illustrations to tell the story. Also, the stories are actually short. The book is 200 pages, but it’s actually a collection of three separate stories, each of which is comprised of four short chapters. Essentially, it’s three books within one cover.
As to the plot, it’s about a flock of crime-fighting pigeons. Rock is a farm pigeon who loves dressing up as different animals and plants. His disguises are so good that he catches the attention of Grandpouter, an old pigeon putting together a squad to investigate the strange happenings at a city park. Thus Rock joins him and the pigeons Homey, Frillback, and Tumbler to investigate the great breadcrumb mystery.
This is a good series for reluctant readers. In addition to being illustration-heavy, the book incorporates a range of humor, from silly visuals to one-liners to the quirky personalities of the characters. It also has a goofy art style. The drawings, which are printed in grayscale, have a pencil sketch look, and backgrounds often look like chicken scratches. But even though the illustrations aren’t the most refined, they contain lots of comic details that convey and enhance the narrative. Also, a broad swath of diversity is represented by the humans in the background. As for the narrative, it’s a humorous kid version of a cop/crime-fighting mystery series. Every pigeon contributes a special talent to the squad, and each story concerns a different case they must solve. Every episode also closes with a clever teaser about the squad’s next mystery.
A crime squad needs bad guys to chase, and the villains (a greedy crow and narcissistic bat) stir things up in a way that causes trouble for our heroes but leaves the door open for plenty of jokes. (The worst thing they do is plant a stink bomb at a food truck fair). With a story like this, there are instances where you have to suspend belief, and certain places more than most. (Rock’s rear passing as a baby’s face was a real stretch.) However, the point of this series is fun entertainment, and the book does it in an engaging, age-appropriate way.
If you’ve got a reluctant reader or a kid transitioning out of picture books, take a look at Real Pigeons Fight Crime. It has appeal for boys and girls, the intrigue of a detective series, and a lively, motley cast. The artwork is on the rough side, but it pairs well with the text to deliver a broad spectrum of humor.
Content Grade: A-
Art Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B
Age Rating: 8-12
Released By: Random House
Release Date: January 7th, 2020