Saturday, March 29, 2008



Welcome to Coomoococklemungmung! When the incredible Italian illustrator Francesca Massai contacted me from Buenos Aires to make a childrens book with her my idea was already in hand -- I always knew the sequel to "White Pigeons" had to be a childrens book because the lack of continuity between Desire and the bi-product thereof always troubled me. I needed to bridge the gap. However, extracting the information needed meant a series of long, strange, and life-threatening bike rides to restaurants, mosques, and soccer fields around New York City in the stifling heat of summer. That turned the "making of" into a story of its own and a subsequent crucial piece to my novel "We Pulse in Pink", wherein I found myself similarly just as lost as Carmen our pigeon protagonist. To help get back on track I enlisted Amy Leo, my sister, long-time children's book editor and copywriter to turn our childrens story into a childrens book. We hope this book acclimates your kids to getting lost early on so they're ready to ride it when it really hits.
Chris Leo


“Wake up Carmen! If we don’t get a move on, we’ll miss the best leftovers!”


Carmen the pigeon lived in Havana, Cuba. Every Sunday, she flew with her parents to the market, close to a street called Calle Obispo.

On Saturday nights Calle Obispo bee-bopped with people dancing, eating, singing, and falling in love.


Come Sunday mornings the alleyway behind Calle Obispo was overflowing with leftovers from the restaurants: stale bread, moldy cheese, and old rice. This is when all of the animals in Havana gathered for a free feast!


Carmen’s favorite part of the market was listening to her animal friends talk. Like everyone in Havana, all the animals spoke Spanish. But they all spoke it a little bit differently.

At the market behind Calle Obispo Carmen could hear a
(next to a picture of a cat) gato speak Meeow Spanish
(next to a picture of a dog) a perro speak Woof Spanish
(next to a picture of a cow) a vaca speak Moo Spanish
(next to a picture of a pig) a cerdo speak Snort Spanish
(next to a picture of a rooster) a gallo speak Cookarookoo Spanish


On this particular Sunday, Carmen was slow and tired.
“C’mon Carmen, speed it up!” yelled her mother as they flew.

“I’m too tired to fly so fast,” Carmen shouted.
In the distance Carmen saw what looked like a big bird. She decided to follow it instead of her parents.
“It must be headed for the market too and it’s easier to keep in sight than my parents.” She said to herself.

After a while Carmen’s wings got tired.
“Maybe I’ll…just…stop there for a quick…rest.” She thought before she landed on an island and fell asleep.


When Carmen awoke, she saw two pigeons looking down at her.

“Welcome to Hawaii!” they said.
“Who are you?” Carmen asked. “Where’s Hawaii?”
“We’re us,” said the first pigeon.
“And Hawaii is right here,” said the other.


“Hey, you guys talk funny,” said Carmen.
“I hate to break it to you,” said the first pigeon.
“You’re the one that talks funny,” finished the second. “We speak Pigeon English like all Hawaiian pigeons.”

“I’m not from Hawaii,” Carmen said. “I live in Havana and we speak Pigeon Spanish. So how come I can understand you?”


“Every animal speaks two kinds of languages,” explained the first pigeon. “The language of their animal.”
“That’s Pigeon for us,” interrupted the second pigeon.
“And the language of their area,” the first pigeon continued.
“That’s English for us and Spanish for you,” said the second pigeon.

“So we can understand all the animals that speak English” the first pigeon went on, “and all pigeons, even ones that aren’t from here, like you.”
“Get it?” asked the second pigeon. “Come on, we’re headed down to the market to get some mangos. You’ll see!”


At the Hawaiian market Carmen heard

(next to a picture of a cat) a cat speak Meeow English
(next to a picture of a dog) a dog speak Woof English
(next to a picture of a cow) a cow speak Moo English
(next to a picture of a pig) a pig speak Oink-Oink English
(next to a picture of a rooster) and a rooster speak Cock-a-doodle-doo English

Above the buzzing of the market Carmen heard a loud noise. She looked up and saw the big bird she had been following. “I better get to Calle Obsispo,” she thought to herself.
“Goodbye, friends!” Carmen said as she flew into the sky.


Carmen followed the bird for hours. “I’ll…just…rest here for a minute,” she thought before she landed on a new island and fell asleep.

“Welcome to Japan.”
“What? Who are you? What’s Japan?” Carmen asked.
“We’re Aki and Hiro. And this is Japan,” said Hiro, the boy pigeon.


“Oh no, I just want to meet my parents at the market in Havana.” Carmen said.


“We’re not sure what Havana is,” said Aki in Pigeon Japanese.
“But we were just on our way to our local market, if you’d like to come.”

At the Japanese market Carmen heard

(next to a picture of a cat) a neko speak Nee-ah Japanese
(next to a picture of a dog) an inu speak Wahn Japanese
(next to a picture of a cow) an ushi speak Maw Japanese
(next to a picture of a pig) a buta speak Buh-Buh Japanese
(next to a picture of a rooster) an ondori speak Kokaykuhko Japanese


“Do you see your parents here?” Hiro asked.
“I’m afraid not, but – Hey! There’s the bird I’ve been following. I better go! Sayonara, friends!”
Carmen dropped the sushi she had been nibbling and flew off. She was gone so quickly that her new friends didn’t have a chance to tell her something important. The “big bird” was actually a…


“Welcome to Russia, little one. We’re Sergey and Sasha!”


Sergey and Sasha took Carmen to the Russian market for some cold cabbage rolls. There she heard

(next to a picture of a cat) a kawshka speak Meeow Russian
(next to a picture of a dog) a sahbahka speak Guff Russian
(next to a picture of a cow) a karawva speak Moo Russian
(next to a picture of a pig) a svee nya speak Ryu-Ryu Russian
(next to a picture of a rooster) a petookh speak Cookareekoo Russian

Carmen liked listening to the Russian animals but she was getting worried. “Will I ever get to Calle Obispo?” she thought.
And then, “Oh, Sergey! Sasha! There’s the bird! Poka, friends!”


“Welcome to Egypt. We’re Khalid and Layla.”
“Let me guess,” Carmen said slowly, “You’re speaking Pigeon Egyptian.”
“Actually, it’s called Pigeon Arabic.” Khalid answered.

At the Egyptian market Carmen heard

(next to a picture of a cat) a cutt speak Meeow Arabic
(next to a picture of a dog) a kelb speak How Arabic
(next to a picture of a cow) a baqara speak Ahh Arabic
(next to a picture of a camel) a huge beast they called a gamal not say anything at all. It communicated only with its eyes!
(next to a picture of a rooster) a dik speak Alooalubbalooaloo Arabic

Carmen ate some delicious babaganoush with Khalid and Layla. Then she saw the big bird and was off again. “Ma’as salaama, friends!”


“Welcome to the Ivory Coast!”
“Oh brother,” Carmen said, “What type of Pigeon language are you speaking? Pigeon Ivory?”
“No, no. We speak Pigeon French!” answered a friendly girl pigeon.


At the Ivory Coast market Carmen heard

(next to a picture of a cat) a chat speak Meeowoo French
(next to a picture of a dog) a chien speak Woof French
(next to a picture of a cow) a vache speak Meeuh French
(next to a picture of a pig) a porq speak snort French with
(next to a picture of a rooster) a coq speak Cocoreeco French

Carmen feasted on yesterday’s roasted yams. And then... “Au revoir, friends!”


“Welcome to Italy!”
“Hey, your Pigeon language sounds a lot like mine!” Carmen was thrilled. She must be close to home now!
“I’m trying to meet my parents at the market. Is there one nearby?”


At the Italian market Carmen heard

(next to a picture of a cat) a gatto speak Meeow Italian
(next to a picture of a dog) a cane speak Bow-Wow Italian
(next to a picture of a cow) a mucca speak Moo Italian
(next to a picture of a pig) a maiale speak snort Italian
(next to a picture of a rooster) a gallo speak Keekeereekee Italian

… Even if it did have delicious tomatoes, this was not the market that Carmen was looking for.


“That big bird must have been lost,” thought Carmen to herself. “I’m better off on my own.”
Carmen asked one of the pigeons for directions to Havana and started flying west.
“Arrivederci, friends!”


“Welcome to New York City! We’ll be your tour guides, Louie and Pedro.”
“Oh no! I thought for sure I was headed to Havana,” said Carmen.
“What do you need to go there for? We speak Pigeon Spanish here!” Pedro said.
“We also speak Pigeon Chinese,” Pointed out Louie, “Pigeon Polish, Pigeon Vietnamese, Pigeon Swahili, Pigeon…In fact, I’m not sure what kind of Pigeon we don’t speak here. Follow us!”


At the New York market Carmen heard:

(next to a picture of a rooster) a Bengali murgi speak Cookarookoo Banga to a
(next to a picture of a dog) kae who replied in Mung-Mung Korean who then called across the street to the (next to a picture of a snake) snake who yelled in Hiss English back to an Ethiopian (next to another rooster) awr dr who spoke Cookaloo Cookaloo Amharic who was trying to negotiate with a horde of bird merchants. (next to pictures of haggling birds) There was a Puerto Rican ave who spoke Chirrido Spanish, a Brazilian ave who spoke Chilrar Portugese, a Hungarian madayr who spoke Csiripel Hungarian, A German vogel who spoke Zirp German, an Irish bird who spoke Chirp English, and an Israeli tseepar who spoke Tseeyoots Hebrew!
There were also all sorts of cats from every country at the market and you know what? They all spoke Mee-ow!


“Friends, this is great, and I love these bagel crumbs…but I have to get home to my parents,” Carmen explained.
“We understand,” said Pedro.
“We have families too,” said Louie. “Follow us.”


Louie and Pedro took Carmen to a huge parking lot filled with the big birds she had been following all around the world!
“What kinds of birds are these, anyway? Dodo birds?”
“These aren’t birds!” said Louie. “We’re at the airport and these are airplanes. That one right there will take you home to Havana. Hop on the wing and hold tight!”

Carmen waved goodbye and settled onto the wing. She was happy to let someone else do the flying for a change!

When the plane landed in Havana, Carmen knew exactly where she was. She flew right back to her nest, as fast as her little wings could carry her.


“Where’ve you been, Carmen?!” her mother asked.
“At the market,” Carmen replied. Then she fell fast asleep, listening to the familiar sounds of Pigeon Spanish coming from the other side of the nest.

The End