cover image The Language of Doves

The Language of Doves

Rosemary Wells. Dial Books, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-1471-7

Perhaps influenced by her work on Lassie Come-Home (1995), the dextrous Wells digs deep here, producing a soulful and stirring tale. On his rooftop in Brooklyn, Julietta's grandfather tells her a compelling story of being drafted--at age nine--along with his carrier pigeons (doves) into the Italian army during World War I. His beloved doves carried secret messages until they were injured or killed. Equally moving is the larger, surrounding story. When Grandfather dies and his doves are sold, Julietta is grief-stricken--until a dove flies home to her with a final, heartening message from her grandfather. Warmth and nostalgia permeate Shed's (Casey Over There) golden, glowing paintings. Every tender image is suffused with radiance and understated longing. Wells's language carries remarkable poignancy, too: ""In the place my heart usually beat was a hollow where the cold wind howled."" Those who know Wells chiefly for her wickedly funny Max and Ruby stories will marvel at the depth of emotion she calls forth with such apparent ease. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)