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A new picture book, 'Pigeon & Cat,' teaches readers young and old about the power of compassion

“I want it to be like a unifying book, you know? Just to remind us all that we're all in this together,” author Edward Hemingway said.

edward hemingway, pigeon and cat, homelessness, empathy, picture books
Little, Brown and Company/Edward Hemingway

Edward Hemingway talks about his new picture book, "Pigeon & Cat."

I’m going to say it right now: I think picture books get a bad rap. They’re written off as silly books for little ones, but there are a lot of picture books out there that have strong messages and deal with real issues. A new picture book, “Pigeon & Cat,” by author Edward Hemingway, may be written for kids, but it’s certainly a book that will teach a lesson to everyone who reads it.

Dealing with issues like homelessness and empathy, “Pigeon & Cat” tells the story of an unlikely pair of animal friends who find each other and lose each other. But it also teaches how one simple act of kindness can change someone’s life.

I got to chat with Hemingway about what inspired him to write such a story and what writing this book has taught him about living life in the last couple years.


Inspiration for “Pigeon & Cat”

During the early 2000s and into the 2010s, Hemingway lived in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. The idea for the character, Cat, came from the time he lived there.

“I noticed all these feral cats living in the neighborhood and they would live in these abandoned lots,” Hemingway explained. “They were all so cute and I would go up to them and unfortunately they're very territorial. I was fascinated with them and I was always trying to win them over, but I wondered, you know, what would it take to win them over?”

After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, Hemingway was forced to leave his home in Red Hook. And even though he had left the neighborhood, he couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to those feral cats. So when he was creating this new character, he immediately thought of those cats.

Feral cats are a very specific kind of cat. When we meet Cat, he lives alone in a vacant lot and is fiercely territorial of his space. He never wants to leave his lot for fear of losing the only thing that’s his, which keeps him from making meaningful relationships.

pigeon and cat, edward hemingway, unlikely friendships

Cat creates a lovely home for his friend Pigeon.

Edward Hemingway

The relationship between Pigeon and Cat

In the story, Cat finds Pigeon’s egg in a nearby nest. Despite knowing that the egg would make a wonderful meal for a hungry cat, he doesn’t eat the egg. Instead he allows it to hatch and cares for the little bird.

“Pigeon's also a stray, but she's known nothing but love because Cat loves her. And so she is able to show Cat that he's capable of loving so much more,” Hemingway said. “I love that idea of this small single act of kindness actually changing an entire community because it brings these two animals together.”

Cat pours so much love and care into Pigeon’s well-being. He begins to decorate their lot with pretty things and teaches Pigeon words. His love and care offers Pigeon the safety to explore, which eventually means that she leaves the lot, and Cat is alone again. But this time it’s different.

Empathy has a ripple effect

Throughout our conversation, one word came up a lot: empathy. The empathy Cat shows for Pigeon’s egg changes both of their lives for the better. And when Pigeon leaves their lot, Cat is a different animal than he was at the beginning of the book. He goes out into the world unafraid—he’s learned you can find friends where you least expect them.

“I really wanted to make a book that kind of celebrated the things that bring us all together, that make us a community,” Hemingway said.

During their time apart, both Pigeon and Cat see more of their city, making new friends and having new experiences. Cat especially learns that not everyone is a threat because he’s forced to talk to other animals in his quest to find Pigeon.

“This small act of kindness actually changes both of these characters' lives and not only changes their lives, but actually leads to urban renewal.” Hemingway explained.

In the end, Pigeon and Cat turn their lot into a home for more than just themselves. They create a new community for other stray animals who don’t have homes where they can share their resources and support each other.

pigeon and cat, edward hemingway, empathy

Empathy creates a ripple effect that can unite a community.

Edward Hemingway

Why did he choose a pigeon and cat of all the possible animal choices?

“I think visually I love the, sort of the difference between a, you know, a feral cat and a, and a city pigeon that they're both, they're so different, also dynamically in the way that they would move and think. And that's why I think they make kind of a charming pair as well.”

pigeon and cat, edward hemingway, city living

Pigeon soars high above her home city.

Edward Hemingway

On writing a book about homelessness, community and empathy during a pandemic

“It was just so trippy during the pandemic to be painting these big city scenes, you know?” he said. “And I was missing all that interaction. But also, when I painted it I was yearning for all that. So I think there's some of that in the feeling of the book too.”

Hemingway, who is an artist first (he studied at the Rhode Island School of Design), handpaints all of his illustrations on a board about three times the size of a book page. Though he now lives in Montana, he fondly remembers the community of living in a city during major devastation. Though a hurricane is different than a pandemic, there’s a similar sense of isolation.

So, what does he ultimately want readers to gain from reading “Pigeon & Cat?”

“I want it to be like a unifying book, you know? Just to remind us all that we're all in this together,” Hemingway said.

Whether you’re a kid or an adult, you will find something to take away from “Pigeon & Cat.” That’s the beauty of picture books.

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10 anti-holiday recipes that prove the season can be tasty and healthy

Balance out heavy holiday eating with some lighter—but still delicious—fare.

Albertson's

Lighten your calorie load with some delicious, nutritious food between big holiday meals.

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The holiday season has arrived with its cozy vibe, joyous celebrations and inevitable indulgences. From Thanksgiving feasts to Christmas cookie exchanges to Aunt Eva’s irresistible jelly donuts—not to mention leftover Halloween candy still lingering—fall and winter can feel like a non-stop gorge fest.

Total resistance is fairly futile—let’s be real—so it’s helpful to arm yourself with ways to mitigate the effects of eating-all-the-things around the holidays. Serving smaller amounts of rich, celebratory foods and focusing on slowly savoring the taste is one way. Another is to counteract those holiday calorie-bomb meals with some lighter fare in between.

Contrary to popular belief, eating “light” doesn’t have to be tasteless, boring or unsatisfying. And contrary to common practice, meals don’t have to fill an entire plate—especially when we’re trying to balance out heavy holiday eating.

It is possible to enjoy the bounties of the season while maintaining a healthy balance. Whether you prefer to eat low-carb or plant-based or gluten-free or everything under the sun, we’ve got you covered with these 10 easy, low-calorie meals from across the dietary spectrum.

Each of these recipes has less than 600 calories (most a lot less) per serving and can be made in less than 30 minutes. And Albertsons has made it easy to find O Organics® ingredients you can put right in your shopping cart to make prepping these meals even simpler.

Enjoy!

eggs and green veggies in a skillet, plate of baconNot quite green eggs and ham, but closeAlbertsons

Breakfast Skillet of Greens, Eggs & Ham

273 calories | 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 (5 oz) pkg baby spinach

2 eggs

1 clove garlic

4 slices prosciutto

1/2 medium yellow onion

1 medium zucchini squash

1/8 cup butter, unsalted

1 pinch crushed red pepper

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

bow of cauliflower ham saladGet your cauliflower power on.Albertsons

Creamy Cauliflower Salad with Ham, Celery & Dill

345 calories | 20 minutes

1/2 medium head cauliflower

1 stick celery

1/4 small bunch fresh dill

8 oz. ham steak, boneless

1/2 shallot

1/4 tspblack pepper

1/4 tsp curry powder

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 tsp garlic powder

3 Tbsp mayonnaise

1/8 tsp paprika

2 tsp red wine vinegar

1/2 tsp salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

tofu on skewers on a plate with coleslawPlant-based food fan? This combo looks yums. Albertsons

Grilled Chili Tofu Skewers with Ranch Cabbage, Apple & Cucumber Slaw

568 calories | 20 minutes

1 avocado

1/2 English cucumber

1 (12 oz.) package extra firm tofu

1 Granny Smith apple

3 Tbsp (45 ml) Ranch dressing

1/2 (14 oz bag) shredded cabbage (coleslaw mix)

2 tsp chili powder

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

frittata in a cast iron skilletSometimes you just gotta frittata.Albertsons

Bell Pepper, Olive & Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata with Parmesan

513 calories | 25 minutes

6 eggs

1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted

2 oz Parmesan cheese

1 red bell pepper

1/2 medium red onion

8 sundried tomatoes, oil-packed

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

1/4 tsp salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

plate with slices of grilled chicken and a caprese saladCaprese, if you please.Albertsons

Balsamic Grilled Chicken with Classic Caprese Salad

509 calories | 25 minutes

3/4 lb chicken breasts, boneless skinless

1/2 small pkg fresh basil

1/2 (8 oz pkg) fresh mozzarella cheese

1 clove garlic

3 tomatoes

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

4 3/4 pinches black pepper

1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

3/4 tsp salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

four stuffed mushrooms on a plateThese mushrooms look positively poppable.Albertsons

Warm Goat Cheese, Parmesan & Sun-Dried Tomato Stuffed Mushrooms

187 calories | 35 minutes

1/2 lb cremini mushrooms

1 clove garlic

1/2 (4 oz) log goat cheese

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded

2 sundried tomatoes, oil-packed

1 1/4 pinches crushed red pepper

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp Italian seasoning

2 pinches salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

plate with open English muffin with goat cheese and sliced baby tomatoes on topMove over, avocado toast. English muffin pizzas have arrived.Albertsons

English Muffin Pizzas with Basil Pesto, Goat Cheese & Tomatoes

327 calories | 10 minutes

3 Tbsp (45 ml) basil pesto

2 English muffins

1/2 (4 oz) log goat cheese

1/2 pint grape tomatoes

3/4 pinch black pepper

2 pinches salt

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

pita pocket on a plate filled with veggies, meat and cheeseThis pita pocket packs a colorful punch.Albertsons

Warm Pita Pocket with Turkey, Cheddar, Roasted Red Peppers & Parsley

313 calories | 20 minutes

1/4 (8 oz) block cheddar cheese

1/2 bunch Italian (flat-leaf) parsley

4 oz oven roasted turkey breast, sliced

1/2 (12 oz) jar roasted red bell peppers

1 whole grain pita

3/4 pinch black pepper

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp mayonnaise

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

plate with toast smeared with avocado and topped with prosciuttoDid we say, "Move over, avocado toast?" What we meant was "Throw some prosciutto on it!" Albertsons

Avocado Toast with Crispy Prosciutto

283 calories | 10 minutes

1 avocado

2 slices prosciutto

2 slices whole grain bread

1 5/8 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

1/8 tsp garlic powder

1/8 tsp onion powder

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

bowl of chili with cheese and green onions on topVegetarian chili with a fall twistAlbertsons

Black Bean & Pumpkin Chili with Cheddar

444 calories | 30 minutes

2 (15 oz can) black beans

1/2 (8 oz ) block cheddar cheese

2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes

2 cloves garlic

2 green bell peppers

1 small bunch green onions (scallions)

1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin purée

1 medium yellow onion

1/2 tsp black pepper

5 7/8 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp cumin, ground

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp virgin coconut oil

Find full instructions and shopping list here.

For more delicious and nutritious recipes, visit albertsons.com/recipes.

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