cover image Hugo


Atinuke, illus. by Birgitta Sif. Candlewick, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-5362-1275-4

Hugo, the dapper, attentive pigeon who stars in this story by Atinuke (Too Small Tola) is warden of a park in a city that feels like Paris. He’s everywhere—greeting visitors, charming infants and dogs, tidying up—and he knows everyone, except for a family that lives behind “one window where the curtains are never open.” He visits the windowsill anyway, and one day, Hugo spies a Black child in a yellow dress peeking out of the panes. He offers his “spring-is-coming dance,” sparking a small smile, and calls the child “Somebody.” After “Somebody” saves Hugo from a marauder, they nurse him back to health and, eventually heading out of doors alongside Hugo, are swiftly embraced as a playmate: Aimée. Loosely sketched, atmospheric drawings of the park by Sif (My Big, Dumb, Invisible Dragon) are illuminated with brilliant rays of light. Why does Aimée stay inside? Atinuke doesn’t say. Sif portrays Aimée’s surroundings as settled and comfortable; a parent works calmly in the kitchen. In this character-driven tale, the draw is the relationship between open, personable Hugo and the way his need draws solitary Aimée out of isolation. Ages 3–7. [em](June) [/em]