Little Wing: The True Story of a Little Girl From Massachusetts

Paramount+’s coming-of-age film ‘Little Wing’ revolves around a 13-year-old named Kaitlyn who grapples with her parents’ impending divorce and her mother’s financial struggles. Desperate to help out, she devises a plan to steal a prized racing pigeon owned by a man named Jaan, believing that selling it could alleviate their financial woes. However, as she sets her plan in motion, Kaitlyn forms an unexpected friendship with Jaan, leading her to question her initial motives and priorities. As Jaan introduces her to the nuances of pigeon racing, a shared passion begins to blossom, igniting a profound connection between the two.

Through their shared experiences in the niche sport, Kaitlyn not only discovers a newfound interest but also gains invaluable insights into life itself. Director Dean Israelite skillfully navigates the delicate themes of their evolving relationship, crafting a narrative that brims with the potential for friendship, personal growth, and unexpected love. The true story that served as the basis for the film’s story is equally remarkable, serving as proof of the enduring power of the human spirit and extraordinary journeys of self-discovery.

The Real Story of a Teen Named Sedona Murphy Inspired Little Wing

‘Little Wing’ stands as a testament to the exceptional writing of the screenplay written by John Gatins. He drew inspiration from a 2006 piece penned by Susan Orlean and published in The New Yorker, titled ‘Little Wing: When Homing Pigeons Leave Home.’ The report is based on the true story of a 13-year-old girl named Sedona Murphy, who was raising and fostering racing pigeons of her own. Orlean drew a detailed picture of the girl, her family, and the sport itself, outlining themes of belonging and a sense of home that both the birds and the humans crave.

Pigeon racing is a competitive sport that involves releasing specially trained homing pigeons from a specific location, with the birds racing back to their respective lofts. Owners prepare their pigeons meticulously, focusing on physical conditioning and training to optimize performance. Once released, the pigeons rely on their keen sense of direction and homing instinct to navigate back home, often covering vast distances across diverse terrain. Owners eagerly await the return of their birds, tracking their progress through timing devices and binoculars. In 2006, Sedona, a baseball and soccer player and also an enthusiastic ballerina, resided with her mother, Maggie, and twin brother, Patrick, in a house on East Fifth Street in South Boston, Massachusetts.

Sedona’s enchantment with pigeons blossomed when Maggie’s friend Bill Hussey, proprietor of a hundred-bird racing team, Hussey-N-Da Lofts, introduced her to the captivating world of racing pigeons. While the family shared affection for their Australian shepherd, cat, and gecko, it was the avian companionship that truly captured Sedona’s heart. Hussey gifted Sedona two baby pigeons named Soleil and Stella Luna. Enamored by these feathered creatures, Sedona eagerly joined the South Shore Pigeon Flyers, acquiring additional pigeons from fellow members. As her avian family expanded, reaching a total of 18 birds, practical considerations prompted a change in their living arrangements.

Initially housed in a rabbit cage indoors, the growing flock soon proved disruptive to the other household pets, prompting Maggie to seek alternative accommodations. In 2006, Maggie decided to relocate her family to a better and larger home in Southborough in Worcester County. She observed changes in the neighborhood and realized that many of her acquaintances had already moved away. Despite the sentimental value of the family’s long-held house, the opportunity to reside in a property spanning an acre of land was too enticing for Maggie to pass up. As they prepared for the move, Sedona faced the difficult task of parting with her beloved pigeons.

Relocating racing pigeons presents a daunting task due to their strong homing instincts and attachment to their original loft. The birds’ innate ability to navigate vast distances back to their home poses a challenge when moving them to a new location. Adaptation to unfamiliar surroundings, weather conditions, and separation from their familiar flock and caretakers further complicate the process. Sedona left her pigeons with the South Shore Pigeon Flyers headquarters. Although leaving her pigeons behind was heart-wrenching for Sedona and seeing the empty garden tugged at her emotions, she understood that making a new home with her mother was what she had to do.

Sedona’s passion for birds has remained steadfast over the years, guiding her academic pursuits and career trajectory. After earning a Bachelor’s in Science from Haverford College, she continued her education at Stanford University, where she obtained her PhD in Genetics with a focus on 3D genome research. Today, Sedona serves as a distinguished science fellow at the Yale School of Medicine, based in New Haven, Connecticut. Committed to promoting diversity and inclusivity in academia, she channels her expertise and dedication towards advancing scientific knowledge and fostering a supportive environment for all scholars.

While the film may deviate in some aspects for dramatic effect, the essence and inspiration behind the original story remain intact. At its heart, the narrative draws from real-life events, experiences, and emotions that the protagonists encountered. The feelings of home-building, the changing of the idea of a home, and the truth that some homes can no longer be remade remain intact in both the original story and the film. ‘Little Wing’ captures this through all its instruments and makes for a brilliant cinematic experience.

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