On the Road to Mr. Mineo's

 
Leisurely small-town comedy of homing pigeon on the lam.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Young readers unfamiliar with homing pigeons may be inspired to further investigation by Sherman and his friends. Kids new to Southern small-town life and its characters will pick up quite a bit of local color.

Positive messages

With a neatness worthy of Shakespearean comedy, Sherman's convoluted misadventures manage to bring together friends, strangers, and enemies and leave just about everyone with what makes them happy. Along the way there's many a lesson about the importance of friendship, the joys of community spirit, and the folly of thinking you know everything there is to know about a person.

Positive role models

Various characters often manage to do the right thing in unlikely circumstances. Stella shows a lot of determination in her pursuit of Sherman -- and her not-always successful efforts to stand up to her obnoxious brother, who wants the bird for himself. Gerald regularly surprises himself with his loyalty in going along with Stella's schemes, which usually scare him to death. Mr. Mineo shows himself to be a responsible, devoted pigeon owner by searching all over town for the wandering Sherman.

Violence & scariness

The scariest scene involves Sherman in dire peril from a pack of eager cats, but no one comes to harm.

Language
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that On the Road to Mr. Mineo's is long on leisurely Southern small-town atmosphere, which may not suit impatient young readers. But the adventures of Sherman the runaway one-legged pigeon, which involve being pursued by kids who want to make him a pet as well as cats who want to make him a meal, have a lot of charm and appeal. And many kids will appreciate young Stella's difficulties with her obnoxious older brother, not to mention parents who won't let her have a dog.

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What's the story?

Mr. Mineo, who lives in a rusted trailer by the lake in sleepy Meadville, SC, and runs the local bait shop, took in his brother's homing pigeons when the brother went to live in a nursing home. Everything's fine until one day Sherman, a one-legged bird who's a bit full of himself, doesn't come home from the daily flight. Before the tale winds to its happy conclusion, Sherman and his new friend, the little brown dog, are being pursued not just by Mr. Mineo but also by assorted kids and adults determined to capture the bird -- not to mention some hungry cats bent on having pigeon for lunch.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The leisurely, repetitious pacing of the narrative lends itself to being read aloud and serves to keep young readers well grounded in the story, but may be too slow for those who prefer fast action. The plight of some of the characters -- Stella, who's given up hope of persuading her parents to let her have a dog, but now dreams of capturing Sherman; her wimpy friend Gerald, frequent recipient of the Knuckle of Death from Stella's brother Levi and his gang of bullies; Mutt, from the wrong side of the tracks, who's got such a reputation as a liar that no one believes him when he tells the truth -- will strike a sympathetic chord with many kids.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about why stories about kids and animals are so appealing. What do you think makes a good animal story? What are your favorite books or movies featuring animals or birds?

  • Stella and Gerald have a lot of trouble with bullying and taunting from Stella's older brother and his friends. Have you had this experience? How did you deal with it?

  • How does Sherman's adventure wind up making things better for just about all the characters in the story?

Book details

Author:Barbara O'Connor
Genre:Animals
Topics:Brothers and sisters, Cats, dogs, and mice, Friendship, Misfits and underdogs
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:October 2, 2012
Number of pages:192
Publisher's recommended age(s):8 - 12
Read aloud:8 - 12
Read alone:8 - 12
Available on:Hardback, iBooks, Kindle, Nook

This review of On the Road to Mr. Mineo's was written by

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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