The Peacock

Orca. (Orca Echoes). Feb. 2024. 96p. pap. $8.95. ISBN 9781459836457.
Gr 1-3–Life is returning to normal in Toronto for Barbara and her family after the end of World War II, until her father travels to Europe to assist with the postwar refugee crisis. Suddenly Barbara is dodging her rowdy brothers and tiptoeing around her melancholic mother, whose nerves are already frayed. Barbara grapples with her own privilege as a Jewish girl in Toronto when letters from her father arrive, describing some of the trauma that displaced Jewish people continue to endure all over Europe. When an errant peacock makes itself at home in Barbara’s yard, she fears the precocious creature will put her exhausted mother over the edge. Barbara hatches a plan to befriend the bird and find it a safe place to call home, something she knows every living creature deserves. Based on a true story, Barbara tale about her father’s involvement in a program to bring Jewish refugees to Canada to work adds a poignant layer, offering young readers a glimpse into the global events of the time through a relatable lens. Whimsical illustrations pepper each chapter, providing a playfulness to the girl’s circumstances.
VERDICT A touching and educational illustrated chapter book that highlights empathy, resourcefulness, and the importance of community. An enriching addition to library bookshelves.

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