Written in 1947, this charming story is about Nat and other boys in the Orthopedic ward of a New York City hospital. They are all in stages of long recovery from injuries and surgery, and find the ward a dull place, but that changes when Nat, who looks out the only window, sees a man raising racing pigeons on the roof of the building next door. One day Nat sees one of the man’s racers taken by a hawk, and he lets the man know by writing HAWK on his small blackboard and putting it in the window. Mr. Lombard, the owner of a pet shop on the ground floor, comes to see Nat to find out what happened, and soon he’s befriended all the boys and encouraged them to start their own pigeon club. He brings a nest box over to put on their fire escape so they can see their own pair of pigeons raise young, and each boy is given the chance to send a message home with a pigeon that can be then released by their family with a return message for them. The pigeons brighten the lives of all the boys, and Mr. Lombard entertains them with stories about homing pigeons through history. Finally, a tragedy at Nat’s home is discovered through a pigeon he sent there and its return message, but can help get there in time?
A fine story if you can find it, recommended.