‘The Stealth Pigeon’ is a magical realism novel intended for middle grade readers, complete at 34500 words. This humorous adventure explores a secretive world of espionage amid our urban wildlife. It combines the antics of Danger Mouse with the adventure of James Bond and would appeal to readers who are ready to move on from the ‘Dave Pigeon’ series. It is a standalone novel with series potential.
Ben, 11, is being followed through Paddington Station. By a pigeon. A talking pigeon, no less. When he is recruited to the Urban Wildlife Divisions – a secretive organisation run by the wildlife of London – he is given a special mission. He must find out who is behind a spate of attacks and thefts in Paddington Station. But Ben isn’t sure he is up to the job. Shy and gentle, hasn’t even found the courage to stand up to The Enormous Boys at school.
Encouraged by his uncle and aunt, Ben sets out to investigate and uncovers a vicious gang of seagulls run by a rogue security guard. As the attacks continue it becomes clear they are on a mission to destroy the Wildlife Divisions. Can Ben find his courage in time to save the Stealth Pigeon and his friends?
Back at school Ben meets Bernard, who is kind and gentle and loves pigeons – a lot – but has never actually had a serious conversation with one. United by their experiences and their fear of the Enormous Boys they join forces. But are they strong enough to stand up to the Enormous Boys at last?
The book is inspired by a short story written by my then 8-year-old-son, titled ‘Stelf pigin and stelf chikin’. He showed great bravery during a difficult time at school, which moved me to write a story about a shy boy who finds the courage to stand up for himself and his friends even when he is afraid. Because not all heroes are bold and brave and adventurous. Or even human.
My first degree was in Natural Sciences (Zoology) at Cambridge University. After a brief stint in Africa, much of it spent underwater, I returned home and retrained as a Physiotherapist. I live in Bath with my family and our princess dog. When not working or writing I make it my goal to embarrass my teenage daughter as much as possible by being spectacularly old and boring.
For many years I have attended book festivals and writing workshops. Since I began writing more seriously in 2017 I have received several commendations for my writing, including the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook / Kickback Media Writing Children’s Fiction Competition 2018 and the WriteMentor Children’s Novel Award 2019. My focus now is on writing for children, in the middle grade age range, and I joined Writementor 2019.
Thank you for your time and I hope you enjoy ‘The Stealth Pigeon’.
London, Present Day.
Ben rubbed a patch of mist off the window of the train with a sleeve and looked out. Someone outside looking in would have seen a small, fair haired boy with the most enormous ears and eyes so sharp they stung. If school rumours were to be believed, Ben could hear whispers down two flights of stairs and through closed doors, and, furthermore, he could see in the dark. Though this was not quite true, Ben found it useful not to correct people. He kept quiet and exuded a kind of invisibility that meant he was regularly overlooked. It was amazing what you could pick up when everyone forgot you were there. Not that he minded. Really.
They hurtled on through the tunnels of the underground until the next platform came into view. Ben rested his head against his mother’s shoulder as she fiddled idly with her phone. The station was filled with a myriad of legs, and strutting about amid these legs was a small but rather smart looking pigeon. This was unusual. Most pigeons in this city were rangy, blackened around the edges and missing a toe or two. This one was a spectacular, glistening grey with just a hint of purple and all toes were present and correct. Ben watched as it marched around. Then it stopped and looked straight back at him, and blinked. No, the bird winked, sidestepped an incoming commuter, and vanished from sight.
Pigeons are awesome, thought Ben. I wish I could do that.
The train-doors hissed open, the pigeon re-appeared from behind a large, cosy-looking lady with a wheeled trolley, and hopped in. Even a few tired looking businessmen smiled and shuffled aside to make space. The pigeon settled next to his feet, occasionally lifting its wings to adjust to the moving carriage.
Ben was smiling now. This had brightened his afternoon considerably. Turning, he pointed out the bird to his mother. She smiled too, in an indulgent way.
‘I’ve heard they use the tube just as we do. I wonder if they realise the journey is often shorter above ground than below.’
‘Do you think they know which way they are going?’ Ben asked.
‘I doubt it. But you never know…’ replied his mother.
For a brief second, Ben thought the pigeon looked vaguely irritated. He felt rather sorry.
‘You know, if it helps, my mum reckons it would be quicker to travel over ground,’ he whispered to it.
‘Possibly,’ said the pigeon ‘but then I would lose contact with my mark.’
Ben blinked. Pigeons finding their way around the underground, navigating stations and escalators and platforms was one thing. Pigeons making conversation was entirely another.
‘What did you just say?’ whispered Ben.
‘I said, I’m following you, so travelling over-ground wasn’t really an option.’ The pigeon looked at him with a hint of pride, ‘I’m undercover.’