4.5 2
by Mac Barnett, Jen Corace

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It's time to fly home for dinner! In this witty picture book from award-winning and bestselling author Mac Barnett, a mother bird gives the bird next to her a message for little Peter. But passing messages on a telephone line isn't as simple as it sounds. Each subsequent bird understands Mama's message according to its own very particular hobbies. Will Peter ever


It's time to fly home for dinner! In this witty picture book from award-winning and bestselling author Mac Barnett, a mother bird gives the bird next to her a message for little Peter. But passing messages on a telephone line isn't as simple as it sounds. Each subsequent bird understands Mama's message according to its own very particular hobbies. Will Peter ever get home for dinner? This uproarious interpretation of a favorite children's game will get everyone giggling and is sure to lead to countless rereads.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Maria Russo
…raucous…Corace's illustrations are both delicate and lively, bringing humor and personality to the worlds of the humans, below, and the birds, above.
Publishers Weekly
★ 07/21/2014
Barnett (Extra Yarn) and Corace (I Hatched!) prove delightful collaborators as they inject new fizz into an old parlor game. On a telephone wire above a street lined with houses, a maternal-looking pigeon turns to a cardinal holding a baseball bat. “Tell Peter: Fly home for dinner,” she says. A page turn provides a comic pause as the cardinal filters what it’s heard through its love of baseball. “Tell Peter: Hit pop flies and homers,” the cardinal whispers to the goose on the wire next to him. The goose, wearing aviator’s goggles, has its own set of mental filters (“Tell Peter: Prop planes are for fliers”), and the fun continues down the wire. The pale blue sky and mounds of white clouds behind the birds lend a spacious, desultory air to the proceedings, yet the concentrated areas of texture and pattern where the birds interact are crammed with visual interest. The idea that one’s own passions affect the way one engages with the world is a subtle concept, but it’s presented with verve and humor. Ages 4–8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"A perfect marriage between text and artwork."—Shelf Awareness"

This fun tale is sure to produce laughs and creative spinoffs."—BookPage"

Silly fun! (Pass it on.)"—Kirkus Reviews"

Silly and funny!"—Imagination Soup"

Raucous avian take on the old-school children's game."-The New York Times"

Over the top and silly. a great pick for a group read-aloud."- Booklist"

Fun continues down the wire."—Publishers Weekly, starred review"

An inspired take on the game of Telephone. that young readers will love!"-School Library Journal"

Amusing details play up the silliness of each new message iteration."—The Horn Book

School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—Barnett offers an inspired take on the game of Telephone, where a simple sentence is twisted and confused as it passes from person to person. In this case, a mismatched flock of birds perched on a wire (a telephone wire, in fact) are responsible for passing a message from a mother pigeon to her son. Each bird has a unique interest that influences its version of the original message, "Tell Peter: Fly home for dinner," and guessing each bird's hobby becomes part of the fun of reading the book. The details in the boldly colored illustrations perfectly illuminate the avian personalities, from sweat beads on the nervous turkey, who cries, "Tell Peter: I'm too high up on this wire!" to the pocket square worn by the calm, wise owl, who manages to pass on the instructions accurately. Simple, silly text is kid-friendly and great for read-alouds, while spreads showing the whole line of birds and the houses below will hold any child's attention. Barnett has created another unique, clever book that young readers will love.—Marian McLeod, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich, CT
Kirkus Reviews
Barnett and Corace set up an absurdist version of the old "pass it on" game of Telephone, siting it quite literally—along a line of birds on a wire. An aproned pigeon with a steaming deep-dish pie tells a baseball bat-toting young cardinal: "Tell Peter: Fly home for dinner." The cardinal translates the message to a goose in a pilot's cap and goggles: "Tell Peter: Hit pop flies and homers." The goose tells a feather-dusting ostrich in a French maid's get-up, "Tell Peter: Prop planes are for fliers." The maid interprets, "Tell Peter: Put your wet socks in the dryer." And so it goes, with seven more birds relaying the message with new twists that reflect their respective avocations, from rock star to firefighter. That seventh fowl, a certifiably paranoid chicken, conveys to an unruffled owl a message that wildly mixes up all of the previous ones: "Tell Peter: There's a giant monster lobster named Homer! / He smells like socks and he breathes red fire! / …and he's coming to this wire! / Tell Peter to fly! / …He's too young to be / somebody's dinner!" Corace cleverly outfits her mixed-media birds with accoutrements including an electric guitar, cameras, books and—for Peter and his baseball teammates—bubble gum. The sage, bookish owl gets the message right, and Peter, ostensibly, his dinner.Silly fun! (Pass it on.) (Picture book. 4-7)

Product Details

Chronicle Books LLC
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.10(w) x 10.10(h) x 0.40(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Mac Barnett is the New York Times bestselling author of several picture books, including Extra Yarn, which won a Caldecott Honor, the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, and the E. B. White Read-Aloud Award. Mac lives in Berkeley, California.

Jen Corace has illustrated a number of children's books, including Little Pea. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

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Telephone 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
This_Kid_Reviews_Books More than 1 year ago
This book is very cute and well done. It reminds me of a game that we played in school when I was little. We called it “whisper down the lane.” I think it’s also called “pass it on.” It was a fun game and this book captured that. The illustrations are cute and show lots of humor. First of all, an ostrich is a maid. Makes sense, with their black, fluffy feathers, right? But how in tarnation did she get on that wire? Ostriches can’t fly! I LOVE that funny touch! The story is light-hearted and full of everything someone could want in a picture book! The plot of the book shows that it is easy to mishear/misunderstand someone. It is a very fun and just plain silly read! I recommend this book to young kids and their parents/teachers! *NOTE* I got a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
Remember playing telephone as a child? Someone would whisper something in someone’s ear and down the row it would go, whispering, whispering, just hoping that when the last person spoke out loud what they heard it would be what the first person said. Sometimes it would be so funny what they said, it would take a few minutes to calm everyone down. When you tried to figure out who whispered the wrong words, people were always pointing fingers. I was always afraid of being the one who would mess it up; my perfectness was already being set at such a small age. In Telephone there are a variety of birds on a telephone wire who must relay a message to Peter that he must fly home for supper. As the birds relay the message down the line, the message gets distorted as they each put their own twist into the story. How will Peter ever get the message with all these different versions is quite comical. I enjoyed all the different twists on the story and I really enjoyed all the different birds on the telephone line. My favorite illustration was one in which the birds shadows are shown on the wire with houses and daily life going on below them. I just loved looking at this silhouette of the birds sitting on the wire, so many different shapes and sizes all on a single wire. There’s an owl, a robin, a toucan, a pelican, a duck, a turkey and other such birds, they’re all just sitting there and waiting. I love that the author choose to include a variety of birds and the illustrator did an excellent job showing us the differences. This book doesn’t contain many words but it’s a fun book and I think kids will enjoy it.