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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
I’m sure we’re all afraid of something at some time or other. Sometimes our fears take over our lives and that’s never a good thing. That’s what happened to Paulie. He’s a plover, a shorebird (or beach bird) who spent the warm summer months at Martha’s Vineyard. He was born there, along with lots of other plovers. While the other newborn plovers learned to fly, Paulie was too scared to try. The other plovers teased him to the point that Paulie decided to run away. On his journey, he met a lobster with one claw who was afraid to swim and a sea turtle who was much too large. They shared their stories of fear and the teasing they had endured. But their lives would change when the threesome had to overcome their fears and work together to save others.
Christy Burbidge’s picture book story, Paulie the Piping Plover’s Merry Misfits: A Martha’s Vineyard Tale, is all about fears, bullying, working together, and the heroic effort it takes to overcome one’s fears. The main character, Paulie, must learn to overcome his fear of flying. He’s a plover and plovers need to fly to escape predators, find food, and fly south when the weather gets colder. The plot follows Paulie’s adventures as he tries to escape his fears by running away, only to realize he has to face his fears head-on. There is a lot of learning going on with this little plover as he discovers other beach creatures with unique fears and he learns how to work together with others, even those who once teased him, to help someone in danger. It takes courage to overcome one’s fears and Paulie definitely has a lot of courage. A powerful story about acceptance and overcoming one’s fears. Beautifully illustrated.