Marcus the worm lives a normal life, in his normal tunnels underground. But one day he meets Laurence. Laurence is, well, let's just say he looks like a rather small, plump chicken. Yes, he's a pigeon. And Marcus is in a can with Laurence about to eat him! It's at that moment that Marcus' life changes. Instead of resigning himself to his fate, screaming all the way down Laurence's beak, or even trying to squirm away, Marcus says good morning. Things move on from there and Marcus finds himself flying across the French countryside with Laurence. Laurence firmly believes he's a flamingo and has a dream of traveling to the Lake Nakuru National Park, in Kenya, to be with his fellow flamingos. He's never had the courage (or the navigational ability) to fulfill his dream but with Marcus at his side, it's time to soar!
At first unwilling, Marcus goes along because he has no choice. But after the two make some marvelous discoveries, have some close calls (I KNEW squirrels were evil!), and learn a little more about each other, both have an epiphany. Having arrived at a zoo a few miles away from their home, Marcus realizes that he's had new adventures and experiences he might never have had without Laurence and they have become true friends. Laurence realizes he's not really a flamingo, but that's ok - and because he decided to listen to a worm, instead of eating him, he's managed to fulfill some of his dreams instead of just staying home and thinking about them.
Lia's cartoons are sparse, but add an amusing dimension to the quirky story when they appear. In the galley I received for review they are in black and white, but the finished book will be in two colors - I'm guessing that it will go along with the cover, Marcus as a pink curve and Laurence a plump, gray and white pigeon with squiggled feathers. Of course there's also the crazy squirrel, mean mole, and all the other odd characters they meet along the way.
Verdict: At almost 200 pages this is a little long for a beginning chapter book and a little short for most middle grade readers. It won't appeal to every kid, but the odd, quirky characters and dry sense of humor are sure to find at least a few fans. An additional purchase.
ISBN: 9780763695361; Published February 2018 by Candlewick; Galley provided by publisher (and LT Early Reviewers) for review