The Masterwork of a Painting Elephantby Michelle Cuevas, Ed Young
Ever since he was an infant, Pigeon Jones has lived on the back of an artistically gifted white elephant named Birch. Birch is a loving father, but that doesn't stop Pigeon from wondering about the human parents who abandoned him. Birch has dreams, too--of being a well-known artist, and of finding the acrobat he fell in love with while they performed together in a… See more details below
Ever since he was an infant, Pigeon Jones has lived on the back of an artistically gifted white elephant named Birch. Birch is a loving father, but that doesn't stop Pigeon from wondering about the human parents who abandoned him. Birch has dreams, too--of being a well-known artist, and of finding the acrobat he fell in love with while they performed together in a circus years ago.
And so, on Pigeon's tenth birthday, their search for fame and lost loves begins. Pigeon and Birch paint their way across the world, dodging an evil circus ringleader, freeing zoo animals, and befriending singing hoboes along the way. But when they reach the end of their journey, Birch must master the most difficult art of all: letting go and allowing his beloved Pigeon to stand on his own two feet.
- Farrar, Straus and Giroux
- Publication date:
- Sold by:
- NOOK Book
- Sales rank:
- File size:
- 913 KB
- Age Range:
- 7 - 11 Years
Read an Excerpt
But He Has Such Big Ears
My name is Pigeon Jones, and I was raised by a painting Indian elephant. This is how my adventure started: one day when I was an infant in my crib, a pigeon flew into our house through the window. This is not, as you may be thinking, why I am named Pigeon. The bird did, however, cause my mama to become quite upset.
“Get that filthy bird out of here,” she shouted. “Don’t let it touch the baby.”
My papa didn’t see the bird at first, but he stayed calm, sat still, and whispered under his breath, “Just be quiet now. Wait till she lands.”
The pigeon was fat. And clumsy. She landed on the side of my crib and flapped her wings so hard she got tangled in the solar-system mobile overhead. Several planets went flying. Venus fell into my crib with a thud and missed my head by only a few inches.
My mama screamed, “Grab that stupid bird.”
The bird didn’t seem to mind being called stupid, and when Papa approached, she climbed onto his outstretched arm one foot at a time.
Papa put the bird on a tree branch outside the window, and that crazy bird began to sing. Loudly. And not very well.
My mama and papa came over and stared down at me. The sun filtered through the leaves on the tree and dappled the light, making continents on my skin. I wasn’t crying. In truth I was enjoying the show from my crib.
“The baby kept calm through the entire commotion,” Papa said thoughtfully. “Through the flapping and the flying and a planet almost falling on his head. I wonder if he can hear?”
“But he has such big ears,” Mama gasped. “How could anyone not hear with those enormous ears?” It was true. I had ridiculously big ears. Huge. Gigantic. They looked like someone had taken dinner plates and attached them to the sides of my head. I was, in this way, quite unlike my parents, who both had remarkably small ears. I think this made it hard for them to hear each other, so they’d end up yelling most of the time.
But the doctor confirmed that there was nothing at all wrong with my big ears. My papa got more and more interested in the way the world looked and sounded to me, such a calm and unconcerned baby. Every time he heard or saw something interesting, he’d say, “I wonder how the baby”—they hadn’t yet given me a name—“would sense that?” and write it down. He had long lists all over the house describing things like how it sounds when someone steps on dry leaves or when a dog laps water or the unexpected noise when a child’s toy drops in the next room. His plan was to ask me all these things as soon as I was old enough to talk. Of course, as with many plans in life, by the time I could talk, most of the lists would have turned yellow and been forgotten.
And if you think my papa sounds a bit strange, then you’ve never had the pleasure of meeting my mama. After I was born she became possessed by a heart-racing, hand-wringing sense of worry that something awful might befall me.
“He’ll get eaten by a tiger,” she’d cry. “Or hit by a bus. I just know it.” She had daily panic attacks and would have to put her head between her legs and breathe into a paper bag.
She worried and worried, until one day, overcome by tears, she was sent to bed for an indefinite amount of time by the doctor.
“Perhaps there is someone to help you care for the baby,” the doctor suggested.
“I suppose we have no other option,” Papa said sadly. “We must do this for the baby’s sake.” And so, that very night, my mama and papa tucked me into a basket, placed me on the steps of an orphanage, and left town, never to return. Attached to my blanket was a note that read:
PLEASE GIVE ME A HOME.
(AND, IF IT IS NOT TOO MUCH TROUBLE, A NAME.)
Text copyright © 2011 by Michelle Cuevas
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