Life Lessons Told in Quiet Ways


From the backseat of Grandma's car, Johnny spots something at the side of the road. Grandma stops the car, and he takes her to see a pheasant lying in the grass. Johnny says the bird is sleeping, though Grandma suspects that the bird may be injured. In any case, Grandma puts the bird in the car and takes him home. Johnny is very excited! On his way out to get sticks for a bed, the bird wakes up and hoots. Now Johnny is even more excited. What will happen next? No spoilers here.

Parent Perspective:
What a lovely story. Johnny's optimism and enthusiasm jump from the page and will resonate with young readers. The illustrations are exquisite in their simplicity. My favorite is Johnny pretending to fly like a pheasant. That the story moves the reader from sadness to joy is a mark of the exceptional writing.

My only nit is that the duo handled the bird and brought it home. It is a story, but it is one where (a younger version of) my daughter would have seen this as something as Okay for her to do if she saw a hurt animal. Highly recommended for quiet reading, whether that is bedtime or stuck indoors on a rainy day.

Reader Enjoyment Factors:

A lovely story for sharing at "quiet time." Johnny is a child children will relate to - especially those who want to bring home every animal they see!

Content Awareness Factors:

None for us. Some readers may think it is indulgent of Grandma to stop the car. Young children may worry that the bird is dead, based on Grandma's observation (it is not).

Type of Book:
This is a picture book about a boy and his grandmother.
Educational Themes:

The story unfolds in a way that allows you to ask readers what they think will happen next: What does Johnny want to show his grandmother? What happened after the pheasant woke up in Grandma's house? What will Johnny do with the feather?

With older readers (first and second grade) you might take the opportunity to talk about wildlife and the appropriate way to get animals help. If you have a bird sanctuary nearby, plan a visit.

Reading Level:
Recommended Age To Read By Yourself:
9 and Up
Recommended Age To Read Together:
3 to 9
Purchase Recommendation:
Borrow, at least. This is a lovely "quiet time" book perfect for reading at bedtime or any time of day.

Title Johnny's Pheasant
Author Cheryl Minnema
Publisher University of Minnesota Press © 2019
Illustrators Julie Flett
ISBN 9781517905019
Material Hard Cover
Cost $16.95
Genres Family, Native & Indigenous People
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