Most people don’t know that pigeon racing is a sport or that there is a large breeding industry producing fancy pigeons that compete on looks alone. Janice Lipsky, an Arizona marketing executive and psychologist, got a crash course in all things avian after a downed racing pigeon appeared on her patio.
The lost bird inspired Dr. Lipsky to build an aviary, acquire three more pigeons and, in a departure from her corporate world, write “WOOT!”, a thrilling middle-grade novel published this month and packed with adventure and fun facts to educate children about these fascinating birds in an entertaining way.
“Pigeons are really interesting animals, yet so underappreciated,” Dr. Lipsky said. “They have so many qualities that we admire and value. They’re highly intelligent and can recognize more objects than dogs or cats. Male and female pigeons share in feeding and nurturing their young, and when not separated, they mate for life.”
“WOOT!” centers around 12-year-old Daniel Wilson, who shares the hobby of pigeon racing and breeding with his father, Jed. But father and son don’t see eye to eye on the purpose of the birds. Jed views the birds as competitors and cares only about having a bird that wins every race. But Daniel has a special gift. He understands the birds as quirky and fascinating individuals and comes to discover he can even talk to them. His star racing pigeon – Woot – becomes his secret best friend.
As Daniel and Jed prepare Woot for the Southwest Regional Pigeon Race, everything is on the line. Will Woot win and prove to be the champion Daniel knows he is? Or will he lose the race and be cast off, like so many other pigeons who don’t become racing stars? The stakes are high for both boy and bird as this desert adventure unfolds.
The inspiration for “WOOT!” began in Dr. Lipsky’s own Scottsdale backyard. Four years ago, she and her husband noticed a bird pecking at their bird feeder. Days later, he was still there. A green band encircled the bird’s ankle, which, Dr. Lipsky came to learn, identified him as a racing pigeon. Delving into further research, she came upon Palomacy, a national rescue organization based in San Francisco.
Through Palomacy, Dr. Lipsky learned that pigeons can make great indoor pets and can live full, happy lives inside predator-proof aviaries. She decided to keep the bird, who she named Woot, built an aviary in her back yard, and acquired three more pigeons to keep Woot company.
“While I appreciate all animals,” Dr. Lipsky said, “cats were my favorite. But taking care of birds, observing their fascinating behaviors, and watching them thrive has been truly satisfying.”
“WOOT!” is available in paperback and e-book versions at Amazon. http://a.co/d/g7M807t
The book includes nine beautiful illustrations by New Mexico artist Carrie A. Schultz.
About the Author
Janice Lipsky is a business executive living in Scottsdale, Arizona. She holds a Ph.D. in social psychology and draws on her background to inform her creative writing. She loves nature, hiking, and holds a third-degree Black Belt in Taekwondo.