Angelo is a plasterer. He has spent most of his life high above the city re-plastering buildings and cleaning up pigeon droppings from the facades. So when he finds an injured pigeon in one of the crevices of the buildings, he only agrees to take it home and nurse it back to health for a day or so. After all, he hates pigeons. The days turn into weeks and the two become friends. After the pigeon, named Sylvia, gets better she flies away but comes back to keep an eye on the old man. The two become inseparable, eating and working together. Sylvia notices that Angelo is slowing down on his work. He rests more often. And Angelo notices too. After he finally finishes his building job, he decides he needs to do something for Sylvia. Something that will last forever.
If I was looking for a book where I cried with both happiness and sadness, this would be it. I'm so in love with this book. I love Sylvia, I love Angelo, but most of all I loved the friendship between them. This is no simple story about a man rescuing a pigeon. Angelo is rescued just as much. The friendship between the two is well built, based on hard work and time spent together. We get to watch it develop from the moment Angelo builds a makeshift hospital bed for the bird until the very end. Angelo is hardworking and caring. He works to do a good job even as he gets too old to work. Sylvia is sweet and caring, and worried about the old man. The ending though, is what cements this book as a new found favorite. I cried at the end of this book, the story was so touching. I was happy and I was sad. In only a couple words Macaulay creates a final image that will stick with me for a very long time.
David Macaulay's illustrations are filled with rough lines and warm colors. In only a few simple pen strokes, he creates beautiful Mediterraneans buildings and expresses great character emotions. He uses terra-cottas, creams, browns, and light blues to bring out the Italian feel for the city and to make his unassuming character of Angelo come to life. Here is a plain man presented plainly. But we still get a feeling for the great love and tenderness he has. A beautiful book, both in story and in illustrations. And a new favorite of mine.