Monday, February 24, 2020


It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday at Always in the Middle and #IMWAYR day at Teach Mentor Texts and Unleashing Readers. It's also Nonfiction Monday.

Noel, Kaela. Coo
March 3rd 2020 by Greenwillow Books
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Coo was abandoned by her mother as a newborn, and a flock of pigeons concerned for her safety flew her off to their abandoned dovecote on the roof of a building and cared for her. They fed her doughnuts and found plastic bags and newspapers to keep her clothed and warm. She can talk to the pigeons, and is especially fond of Burr. When Burr is injured, she goes down from the roof to seek out Tully, a retired postal worker who frequents the area, feeding the pigeons and occasionally taking them to be healed. At first, Coo hides from Tully, and the police are not all that interested in locating a feral child. Tully eventually finds Coo and brings her home, first feeding her to gain her trust, and helping her to get clean and be clothes. Coo does not speak English, and her interactions with Tully are realistic. Slowly, Coo learns that food doesn't always come out of a dumpster, she doesn't have to be cold, and there are marvels like television and the subway to be investigated. She also meets a neighbor of Tully's and becomes friends with the girl, learning to draw and to dance. Tully is understandably concerned about getting Coo a medical exam, but she is reluctant to alert the authorities, fearing that Coo will become an oddity, a "bird girl", and not have a regulated existence. With the help of a friend who was a social worker, Tully starts the process of alerting the authorities while protecting her legal rights. At the same time, Coo's flock is in danger; the mayor wants to clean up the city, starting with the pigeons. Rogue city workers are taking it upon themselves to poison the pigeons, and when Coo's flock is targeted, Tully's friend manages to save the birds. Coo is concerned about the future, however, and when the flock recuperates, she talks them into a grand plan-- fly to a forest in the north, carrying her, and living without humans. But can pigeons, and Coo, survive without humans?
Strengths: I have to admit-- I was prepared to hate this, if only because of the pigeons talking in a Yoda-like dialect. However, I was soon sucked in, and Noel managed to address most of the concerns very realistically. The appearance of Tully sold me completely, and her care of not only Coo but the pigeons made this very charming. Once Coo and I were comfortable with a new life off of the roof, the addition of an environmental mystery carried this to a strong ending. The cover is very attractive, and I enjoyed this tremendously.
Weaknesses: One thing that was not addressed about Coo's care-- when she was an infant, how did the pigeons deal with the diaper issue? I'm imaging a lot of newspaper!
What I really think: Bird books of any manner or description do not circulate well in my library-- no idea why. Still, I was so charmed by this that I will definitely purchase a copy, even if it requires hand selling!
Ms. Yingling


  1. Sounds like an interesting & warm story, Karen. I have marked it on my list. I laughed when I read about your diaper dilemma, wonder what they did do?

  2. I have to admit that I would never have added this book to my list if it were not for your review here Karen. It doesn't seem like a scenario that anyone could make anyone suspend belief, so I'm glad it works.

  3. I share your same initial reaction. There is so much that could go wrong with the plot and characters. It sounds like any worries are erased once you are into the story. Okay, I'm going to give this one a go. Thanks for featuring on MMGM.

  4. What an intriguing premise for a MG novel . . . I appreciate your sharing it with us for MMGM.

  5. This looks like fun. But yes, what DID they do about diapers?!

  6. This sounds like the most original premise I've seen in an MG book in a long time! Thanks so much for the review!

  7. Being a New Yorker, I'm not generally fond of pigeons, but this sounds like an interesting book and I am intrigued. I will have to get a copy and read it for myself, now. One thing that does bother me is the cover with Coo sitting on the edge of the roof - not a good idea.

  8. Your review makes me so intrigued by it. Will keep an eye out for it.

  9. It's so refreshing when I'm prepared to hate a book and end up getting sucked in! And what an interesting premise. I'll be looking out for Coo very soon. Thanks for sharing, Karen!