cover image Cher Ami: Based on the World War I Legend of the Fearless Pigeon

Cher Ami: Based on the World War I Legend of the Fearless Pigeon

Mélisande Potter, illus. by Giselle Potter. Little, Brown/Ottaviano, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-316-33534-8

First-time mother-daughter collaborators Mélisande and Giselle Potter recount the true story of a homing pigeon named Cher Ami in this WWI-focused picture book, per an author’s note “a blend of truth and legend.” Beginning with the bird’s life on an English farm and subsequent call to duty, the book walks through her intensive training regimen and arrival as a messenger in France for the United States Army, whose service members are largely portrayed as white. The story’s dramatic climax arrives when the injured bird completes a 25-mile mid-battle flight, “alone like a little boat in a big, dark sea,” to transport an urgent, life-saving message. Vivid prose voices the pigeon’s imagined experience: “She would not give up! Her whole body ached as she tried to lift her wings.” Presented in watercolor and ink with mottled brown wings and a luminescent throat, Cher Ami makes for a handsomely anthropomorphized heroine; her ordeal, as sympathetically captured by the creators, provides a bird’s-eye view of war’s realities. Creators’ notes and sources conclude. Ages 6–9. (May)