illustrated by Jen Corace
It's time for dinner! But will Peter get the message before
his supper gets cold?
A BuzzFeed Best Picture Book of 2014
A Reading Today Best Picture Book of 2014
An Association for Library Service to Children Notables Selection
A Junior Library Guild Selection
★ "The opening, wordless spread shows a neighborhood with cozy homes, children at play, and happy pets, while above it all a telephone wire hosts an unusual assortment of birds, shown as blobby silhouettes. The page-turn zooms in to show a scene on the wire: an aproned pigeon is directing a young cardinal holding a baseball bat to “tell Peter: Fly home for dinner.” A wacky game of telephone—on the telephone wire—ensues, as a goose in an aviator helmet, a comic book–reading duck, an open-mouthed pelican, and others pass along changed versions of the message (“Lobsters are good hiders…My monster truck has big tires…Something smells like fire!”). By the time the message gets to Owl, it has become (humorously) long and exaggerated: “There’s a giant monster lobster named Homer! He smells like socks and he breathes red fire! His eyes blaze like stars and he rides a crocodile that flies and he’s coming to this wire! Tell Peter to fly! Fly far far away! He’s too young to be somebody’s dinner!” Fortunately, Owl manages to interpret the message correctly and points Peter in the right direction—home for dinner—as the sun sets on the back endpapers. Bright and elegant art done in watercolor, ink, gouache, and pencil depicts amusing details that play up the silliness of each new message iteration, but with plenty of white space to keep it all perfectly clear for readers and listeners."
—The Horn Book Magazine, starred review
★ “Delightful. . . The idea that one’s own passions
affect the way one engages with the world is . . .
presented with verve and humor.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Raucous avian take on the old-school children’s game, in which the action takes place, naturally, on a telephone wire.”
—New York Times
“An inspired take on the game of Telephone… that young readers will love!”
—School Library Journal
More from the School Library Journal:
"Barnett offers an inspired take on the game of Telephone, where a simple sentence is twisted and confused as it passes from person to person. In this case, a mismatched flock of birds perched on a wire (a telephone wire, in fact) are responsible for passing a message from a mother pigeon to her son. Each bird has a unique interest that influences its version of the original message, “Tell Peter: Fly home for dinner,” and guessing each one’s hobby becomes part of the fun of reading the book. The details in the boldly colored illustrations perfectly illuminate the avian personalities, from sweat beads on the nervous turkey, who cries, “Tell Peter: I’m too high up on this wire!” to the pocket square worn by the calm, wise owl, who manages to pass on the instructions accurately. Simple, silly text is kid-friendly and great for read-alouds, while spreads showing the whole line of birds and the houses below will hold any child’s attention. Barnett has created another unique, clever book that young readers will love!"
—School Library Journal
“Over the top and silly… a great pick for a group read-aloud.”
More from Booklist:
"Peter Pigeon’s mom wants him to come home for dinner, so she tells a little bird, “Tell Peter: Fly home for dinner.” That little bird, who’s wielding a baseball bat, tells a bigger bird, “Tell Peter: Hit pop flies and homers.” And so the message grows more convoluted through a long line of birds until it snowballs into something over the top and silly. At last, though, a wise old owl calmly delivers the original message to Peter, who had been playing ball with his other bird friends. Barnett’s simply told, slapstick story of miscommunication is well matched by Corace’s big, bold watercolor illustrations of wacky anthropomorphized birds. Each two-page spread subtly reveals hints for how each bird distorts the message, and the opening and closing pictures of the birds on a telephone wire quietly add to the joke. With short lines and page-filling, laugh-out-loud images, this would be a great pick for a group read-aloud."
"Telephone is an excellent example of a perfect marriage between text and artwork....This picture book will be read over and over, as youngsters pore over every spread to guess what comes next."