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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Review of Pippa by Dimity Powell

I had already planned to review At The End of Holyrood Lane for this week's #PPBF. But when I read Dimity Powell and Andrew Plant's Pippa, which released Thursday, I couldn't resist writing another review.

It's that time of year, parents are getting their kids ready for college. For many it's the first time they spread their wings and live away from home. A time full of anticipation, anxiety, doubt, and bluster. And yes, possibly danger. Sometimes it seems like just yesterday you were sending them tearfully (or excitedly dashing off) to kindergarten. At other times, it feels like this has been the LONGEST summer ever. They do seem hard-wired to aggravate their parents, until we're "excited" to let them go. It's okay, you'll miss them soon enoough and they'll be anxious to return (if only for the cooking) by Thanksgiving or Christmas.

While the college kids aren't likely to want to read this, it is a perfect book for parents and younger students to realize that kids need space to learn how to take risks, stretch their wings, and try new things, while having a safe place to flee to. It is a fun story to make parents and teachers think a little. And a great way to introduce a child to homing pigeons.


Author: Dimity Powell

Illustrator: Andrew Plant

Publisher: Ford Street Publishing (2019)

Ages: 3-6



Pigeons, growing up, adventure, taking chances, letting go, and finding home.


Pippa is a little pigeon with big blue-sky ambitions: to fly solo and explore the world beyond her nest. Her parents are less than thrilled with their risk-taking feathered fledging and smother her with well-meant yet suffocating warnings until one day she ignores them all, and takes the leap into the unknown…alone.

Pippa is a light-hearted adventure tale about striking out alone, following your dreams and desires and experiencing what it’s like when you get there. It is a tale that acknowledges the sometimes-suffocating affection parents have for their offspring, which can temper and frustrate a child’s sense of freedom and adventure, and suggests that it’s okay to take risks from time to time. Although the adventure may be perilous, it is still worth experiencing for you never know what glorious discoveries lie ahead.

Opening Lines:

Pippa loved to explore.

She loved going out on a limb . . .

to exercise her wings.

Percy and Peg were appalled.

"Come back! Come back"

they cried, "You'll fall!"

What I liked about the book:

Pippa is a young pigeon itching to explore the world; confident in her abilities and headless of the dangers. Unfortunately, her parents are overprotective, hopeful that scary stories would keep her in the tree. Their continued cooing of being "far too young," only serves to make Pippa anxious to prove she CAN do it. Just look at that little pigeon roll her eyes!

Text © Dimity Powell, 2019. Image © Andrew Plant, 2019.

When her parents next leave to find food, Pippa takes off, "dipping, swirling, slicing, twirling" across the countryside. She soars, free and happy, until . . . she's pooped and hungry. Suddenly, out of the blue, a falcon attacks. Frantically fleeing, Pippa ends up in a barn only to discover another predator.

Text © Dimity Powell, 2019. Image © Andrew Plant, 2019.

Pippa escapes but now must figure out how to find her way home, when she's never even left the tree before. Okay, now you'll have to read the book . . . right?

Andrew's colorful illustrations, at times adorably charming and at other times heart pounding, are so detailed and full of movement that they draw the reader into and through the story. You can almost feel the wind of its wings and hear that falcon's cry, can't you? It is amazing how much personality Andrew captures through the animal's eyes, while keeping them realistic. Oh, and wait until you see the Andrew's ending image. It captures both Pippa's adventurous spirit and a promise of growing independence.

As you read, it becomes immediately clear that Dimity knows and has an affinity for pigeons. In fact, she grew up with them. These beauties are Nancy & Rover, her first pigeons.

© Dimity Powell.

Though anthropomorphized, Pipa and her parents act true to their nature. And Dimity sprinkles facts throughout the story, such as pigeon milk, cooing, and the navigation of homing pigeons. Making this a fun book to get kids excited to learn more about pigeons.

Although not a rhyming picture book, Dimity includes a few puns and internal rhymes, ("she suddenly spied … a horrible pair of hungry RED EYES") as well as some beautiful, lyrical language - "a patchwork of paddocks," "a blistering bullet or beaks and talons," and "a somersaulting heart." Overall, this is a real pleasure to read. One that will be enjoyed over and over. And a book sure to spark a few discussions, and perhaps some soul-searching, by parents and kids.


- how do you deal with frustration when things don't go as planned? Write or draw an example;

- what do homing pigeons use find their way home? What would you use to get back home?

- make an origami pigeon - check out the arts & crafts, recipes, activities, worksheets, & coloring sheets by Dimity and Andrew (;

- read and compare the realism and frustrations of Mo Willems' Don't Let the Pigeon . . . series; and

If you missed Dimity Powell's interview on Monday, find it (here).

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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