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On the Road to Mr. Mineo's

On the Road to Mr. Mineo's

5.0 2
by Barbara O'Connor

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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


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.

This title has Common Core connections.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
Can a one-legged pigeon create a connection, however tenuous, among disparate residents of a sleepy South Carolina town? Sherman has literally flown the coop, leaving Mr. Mineo heartsick. He is, after all, the caretaker of his brother's small flock of homing pigeons, which have, surprisingly, begun to provide much-needed fulfillment for the lonely man. Meanwhile, a whole group of Meadville inhabitants would like to catch that pigeon, for a variety of different reasons just as individual as they are. The children: Spunky Stella desperately wants a pet; Gerald, slow moving and passive, just wants to satisfy Stella, his only friend; bully Levi and his sidekicks seem to want the bird mostly to frustrate the others; Mutt wants him because that danged pigeon landed on his head more than once, but no one believes him. The others: a small, lonely brown dog seeking companionship; Amos and Ethel Roper--one more thing to cheerfully bicker over. O'Connor weaves the fabric of her tale from each of these separate threads, moving back and forth among points of view, sympathetic to nearly all (except Levi and company). As in The Small Adventures of Popeye and Elvis (2009), she condenses long summer days down into their essence, quiet but humming with an undercurrent of childhood energy. Yes, a one-legged pigeon can satisfyingly link even these quirky characters together. (Fiction. 9-12)
From the Publisher

“* O'Connor sets the stage beautifully from the very beginning. . . . Touching and satisfying.” —School Library Journal, starred review

“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.” —Publishers Weekly

“[O'Connor] condenses long summer days down into their essence, quiet but humming with an undercurrent of childhood energy.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Rhythmic prose.” —BCCB

“With total authorial control, O'Connor brings it all together, first creating a quiet, satisfying adventure and then an apt conclusion for peaceful, laidback Meadville. Here it is the subtlety of character and setting, rather than action, that rules the roost.” —The Horn Book

“A gem of a story. . . . Barbara O'Connor's gift in storytelling is her restraint. Holding back allows the reader to fill in a bit, making the story more personal. Her talents make On the Road to Mr. Mineo's an unforgettable trip.” —Book Page

“Read it aloud to a classroom. Share the book at bedtime with a special child. Wrap it for the holidays. This one's a keeper.” —Christian Science Monitor

Children's Literature - Annie Laura Smith
Who knew so many would be interested in a one-legged pigeon seen flying around Meadville, South Carolina, on lazy summer days? Would this pigeon replace the dog that Stella so desperately wants to have? A quirky group of characters begin a mission to catch the pigeon. The plot develops into themes of friendship, bullies, and partners in crime as the quests to catch the pigeon continue. Never mind the pigeon, Sherman, really belongs to Arthur Mineo, who misses his feathered friend. Follow the adventures of the disparate characters, and learn how this one-legged pigeon creates a connection between the people in this quaint southern town, all of whom have different reasons for wanting to catch the bird. O'Connor has developed a story which is much more than a story about a one-legged pigeon. In the final analysis she has woven an adventure that shows the merit of perseverance. It is an ingeniously crafted story which reflects southern charm. Reviewer: Annie Laura Smith
School Library Journal
Gr 3–6—Nestled in the scenic South Carolina countryside is a quiet town called Meadville. Summers are ordinary, but wonderful, filled with bike rides, swimming lessons, and the antics of imaginative children. Stella is eager for adventure and longs for a pet to be her constant companion. She spends her days with her best friend, Gerald, on the roof of his garage conjuring up "good ideas" that usually bring some type of misfortune on him. One typical day, an unexpected visitor arrives-a one-legged pigeon that sets Stella on a mission to catch it and claim it as her own. However, she is not the only person eager to catch this fickle rogue. There are many others, equally as determined to snare the elusive bird. This heartwarming tale of a town coming together in an unexpected way will delight readers. Children will eagerly follow the twists and turns in this story of friendship and loneliness, giving and receiving. O'Connor sets the stage beautifully from the very beginning, painting the small town in brilliant colors with her descriptive imagery. Older elementary students will easily relate to the nuances of the relationships between older and younger children as well as the angst of sibling rivalry. The theme of everyone working together to achieve a common goal is strong, and the ending is touching and satisfying.Amy Shepherd, St. Anne's Episcopal School, Middleton, DE

Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)
830L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Where the Story Begins
Highway 14 stretches on for miles and miles through the South Carolina countryside.
The land is flat.
The dirt is red.
There are mountains to the west. An ocean to the east.
Every few miles there is a gas station. A billboard. A Waffle House.
In the summer, cars whiz up the highway with suitcases strapped on the roofs and bicycles hanging off the backs. Eighteen-wheelers rumble along, hauling lumber and paper and concrete sewer pipes.
The cars and the eighteen-wheelers drive right by a small green sign with an arrow pointing to the left. The sign reads MEADVILLE.
Pecan trees line the main street of Meadville, shading the sidewalks and dropping pecans for boys to throw at stop signs.
On summer afternoons, waves of steamy heat hover above the asphalt roads.
Tollie Sanborn sits on the curb in front of the barbershop in his white barber coat with combs in the pocket.
Elwin Dayton changes a flat tire on his beat-up car with flames painted on the hood.
Marlene Roseman skips to swimming lessons, her flip-flops slapping on the sidewalk.
When the sun goes down and the moon comes up, the street is empty. The shops are closed and dark. The streetlights flicker on. A stray cat roams the alleys, sniffing at Dumpsters overflowing with rotten lettuce and soggy cardboard boxes.
Just past the post office is a narrow street called Waxhaw Lane. At the end of Waxhaw Lane is a green house with muddy shoes on the porch and an empty doghouse in the front yard.
On one side of the door of the green house is a window. The window is open. The room inside is dark.
A curly-haired girl named Stella sits in the window and whispers into the night:
Moo goo gai pan
Moo goo gai pan
Moo goo gai pan
The words drift through the screen and float across the street and hover under the streetlights, dancing with the moths.
Stella is supposed to be saying her prayers, but instead she is just whispering words, like moo goo gai pan.
Across the street from the green house is a big white house with blue-striped awnings over the windows and rocking chairs on the porch. A giant hickory-nut tree casts shadows that move in the warm breeze like fingers wiggling over the dandelions on the dry brown lawn. The roots of the tree lift up patches of cement under the sidewalk out front.
The next morning, Stella will race across the street and up the gravel driveway of the big white house. She will climb the wooden ladder to the flat roof of the garage to wait for Gerald Baxter.
Stella and Gerald will sit in lawn chairs on the roof and play cards on an overturned trash can. They will watch Stella’s older brother, Levi, and his friends C.J. and Jiggs ride their rickety homemade skateboards up and down the street.
They will eat saltine crackers with peanut butter and toss scraps down to Gerald’s gray-faced dog sleeping in the ivy below.
They will listen to the kids on Waxhaw Lane playing in somebody’s sprinkler or choosing teams for kickball. Stella will want to join them, but Gerald won’t. Stella might go anyway, leaving Gerald pouting on the roof. But most likely she will heave a sigh and stay up there on the roof, playing cards with Gerald.
They will watch the lazy days of summer stretch out before them like the highway out by the Waffle House.
As the sun sinks lower in the sky and disappears behind the shiny white steeple of Rocky Creek Baptist Church, the lightning bugs will come out one by one, twinkling across the yards on Waxhaw Lane.
Gerald’s mother will turn on the back-porch light, sending a soft yellow glow across the yard. Stella’s mother will holler at Levi for leaving his skateboard in the driveway again.
Stella and Gerald will put the cards inside the little shed at the back of the garage roof and climb down the ladder.
The next day will start the same.
Stella will race across the street to the big white house and climb the wooden ladder to the garage roof to wait for Gerald.
But this time something will be different.

Copyright © 2012 by Barbara O’Connor
Map copyright © 2012 by Greg Call

Meet the Author

Barbara O'Connor 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.

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On the Road to Mr. Mineo's 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It has some much detail to it and the part when he wanted to be read a part of the bible for a bedtime story which is a very complacted chapter or book of the bible is just unique and i have never heard of something like that.
penandbrush7 More than 1 year ago
Sherman the elusive pigeon, a gaggle of kids determined to catch him, a little brown dog, plus a handful of unforgettable grownups = one delicious read. Stella’s full of spunk; Gerald has none. Mutt’s a liar determined to be believed & bully Levi’s racing around with his germ-infested friends. Barbara O’Connor, known for her lively characters, spot on southern settings & clever plots, gets her gang on the road to Mr. Mineo’s and leaves us cheering. She’s knocked this funny, fast-paced tale into the high tension wires.