cover image ANGELO


David Macaulay, . . Houghton/Lorraine, $16 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-618-16826-2

Despite his "professional dislike" for birds, an elderly plasterer named Angelo reluctantly carries home an injured pigeon he comes across while restoring the exterior of a church. "I restore walls, not pigeons," he grumbles, but an unlikely friendship springs up between the two as he nurses Sylvia (his new pet) back to health. Later, she returns the favor—when she sees that her benefactor moves a bit more slowly, she sticks around to "coo encouragement" as he presses on with his work, fanning him with her wings on hot days and entertaining him at lunchtime. Seasoned artist Macaulay (Building Big; Rome Antics) knows how to get the most humor out of his illustrations, both in the finer details (Angelo and Sylvia sporting matching red scarves in winter) and the broader strokes (as Angelo tells Sylvia of the church's restoration as his "crowning achievement," he imagines the building's façade glimmering in glory, while she imagines pigeons perching on every available surface). He thus balances the melancholy elements of the tale with moments of lightness. Angelo's swan song to Sylvia is especially poignant. Macaulay's artwork conveys respect for Angelo's talent and commitment, and the artist wedges a good deal of architecture and sculpture into his watercolors. Though the setting goes unnamed, the rust-colored tile roofs, domed churches and other details make it clear that readers have been whisked to Italy. All ages. (Apr.)