How do you feel about the presence of pigeons at your local park? Do you like how they fearlessly bob around your legs in search of food? Do you enjoy seeing them flock to a single spot to eat their crumbs? Or do you just try to stay out of their way like I do?
Whatever your feelings about pigeons, author Atinuke invites you to think differently about these important caretakers in Hugo (Walker Books, 2020), a picture book for readers ages 3 and older. This is a touching story about friendship, community and appreciating everyone’s role: no matter how big or small.
Birgitta Sif‘s lovely pencil illustrations set the scene of a quaint French neighbourhood park that is surrounded by apartments with flowers on the balcony ledges and a clothesline stretching from one building to the next.
The reader is politely welcomed by Hugo the park warden; a smartly dressed pigeon in a top hat. It’s clear that Hugo takes his job seriously. He is an essential part of the community who helps an elderly neighbour take his walk, cleans up after children and their dogs and, even entertains a pair of toddlers while their mothers rest.
The park warden is well-known and well-liked. However, there is one neighbour in particular that Hugo has not gotten to know yet. The neighbour keeps to herself behind her closed windows but she soon starts to warm up to Hugo a little.
On a fateful day, she even comes to Hugo’s rescue and nurses him back to health! Through Hugo’s unfortunate accident, he helps her to become acquainted with everyone else in the park and soon after, they all become friends.
Hugo is a warm, friendly and caring park warden who is happiest when everyone gets along and plays together!
Below is a video of Atinuke talking about Hugo:
*The review copy of Hugo was kindly provided by the publisher.
Written by Atinuke
Illustrated by Birgitta Sif
Walker Books, 2020
Page count: 40
Lebohang Masango is a PhD candidate in Social Anthropology, an award-winning children’s author and poet. Her debut, Mpumi’s Magic Beads is translated in all 11 official South African languages and has been awarded a South African Literature Award, among others. Her other titles include Grow to be Great: Awesome African Achievers, co-authored with Dr Judy Dlamini, and Mpumi and Jabu’s Magical Day, co-authored with Professor Claudine Storbeck. She tweets at @lebohangwrites.