By: Janeen Mason (author/illustrator)
Publisher: Pelican Publishing
Publication Date: November 2010
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld
Review Date: January 2011
Max the Magpie has a crush on Regina, another feathered member of his flock. He’ll do just about anything to make Regina happy, including blowing bubblegum bubbles out of his nostril. When Max learns about Regina’s love of footwear, he happily gives up helping the flock search for food so he can help Regina find the perfect shoe.
The two friends soon realize they could get into trouble looking for shoes instead of food. So they agree to search for food each morning and shoes in the afternoon. That way the rest of the flock would think the pair were searching for food and never discover their secret.
Max really enjoyed spending time with Regina and it wasn’t long before his crush grew into a full-blown love for Regina. Alas, the young lady didn’t seem to have a clue about Max’s affection. How could he show his love? With a shoe of course! But when Regina sees the shoe Max found, an old basketball shoe with goo dripping off the toe, she is aghast. Ew, how could he? Regina flies off in disgust.
Heartbroken, Max joined another flock and disappeared for the winter. It was only then that Regina realized just what she had done, and that she missed Max terribly. How would she ever win him back?
Gift of the Magpie is a sweet tale of lost love. Fortunately for readers who are quickly charmed by the unusual couple of Max and Regina, the story does have a happy ending. There are a few places where the text is a bit confusing, for example, the very first page is unclear – why is Max blowing bubbles, who is Regina, and what is “afternoon report?” – but after reading the story, it will make sense. It is also likely that many young readers will be lost in the lively illustrations of the magpies and their surroundings. From sunrise in a small town to a sneaker decked out in Christmas lights and beads, the drawings are vibrant and quite enjoyable.