Only a Pigeon

Only a Pigeon by Jane Kurtz and Christopher Kurtz. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis. (1997) Reading Level: Ages 4-10. 32 pages. Simon & Schuster. ISBN: 0689800770.

Only a Pigeon

A boy in Addis Ababa, who works hard to earn money for his family by shining shoes, spends most of the time when he isn't working or going to school caring for his pigeons, protecting them from the weasels and other creatures that creep through the dark.
Only a Pigeon was awarded the Parents' Choice Gold Award -- the award is "a distinguished and coveted award" and a "wonderful honor." Parents' Choice is a nonprofit consumer guide to children's toys, books, software, video, and magazines that has been dedicated to helping parents select great products for their children since 1978. In 1997, about 1000 publishers and companies participated in the Parents' Choice awards competition.

Only a Pigeon was one of the few picture books awarded a Parents' Choice Gold. The reviewer wrote that the book was, "A low-key, compelling story about an Ethiopian boy who raises homing pigeons.[The readers] accompany the 12 or 13-year-old Ondu-ahlem as he tends his brood, protecting them from attack by a mongoose or stray cat. His is a circumscribed life, but we enter it willingly, sharing its perils and triumphs. E.B. Lewis's tender watercolors transport us to Addis Ababa, with its tin-roofed houses; and muddy streets. Both authors grew up in Ethiopia, and the artist traveled there to assure the authentic flavor of his pictures. The hero's name, Ondu-ahlem, means One World, and this lovely book contributes to that still elusive goal. Read about the how this story came to be written by reading this book's background page.


  • Winner of the Africa Association Book for Young Readers Award, 1997
  • Winner of the Parents' Choice Gold Award,