Prather’s Pick: ​Another book by Mo Willems |

Prather’s Pick: ​Another book by Mo Willems

​Recently I reviewed “The Pigeon Has to Go to School, “ the newest in Mo Willems’ picture book series, featuring a pigeon who knows what he wants and works hard to persuade the reader that he should have it. Since school is about to start, I decided to review “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus,” Willems’ debut pigeon book. I think teachers might like to use the book to emphasize the importance of following rules. 

​On the book’s front inside cover pages, the pigeon is thinking about how it would be to drive a bus. On the next page, a bus driver speaks directly to the reader. He says he has to leave the bus for a little while. 

​“Can you watch the bus for me?” he asks. He says not to let the pigeon drive the bus!

​The driver walks away, but the pigeon is already peeking onto the corner of the next page. The pigeon is delighted that the bus driver has left. He stands there, all nonchalant-like. 

​Then finally the pigeon says, “Hey, can I drive the bus?” 

​If someone is reading the book to children, there’s a pause to see if they will allow the pigeon to drive the bus. The answer is usually a loud “No!”

​So now the pigeon negotiates directly with the reader. He’s polite. He says, “Please.” He promises to be careful. He tells the reader that his Uncle Herb drives a bus every day — but maybe not. He tries every trick in the book to get permission to drive the bus, not limited to pleading, manipulation, and bribery. Finally he resorts to a tantrum — and it’s a doozy!

​But, no matter what, the reader doesn’t give in. Finally, the driver comes back. He’s grateful that the pigeon didn’t drive the bus. 

​Poor pigeon — but then…

​This interactive book is intended for ages 2 to 6. The drawings of the pigeon are the work of genius. They’re simple, yet the physical stance of the pigeon allows the reader to understand exactly what he’s thinking. In short, the pigeon is a hilarious character, yet he provides a lesson about life for children.

​“Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” was first published in 2003. It is a Caldecott Honor Book for illustration and was an inaugural inductee into the Picture Book Hall of Fame. Published by Hyperion Books for Children (and Pigeons), the hardcover book costs about $15.99.

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