I was desperate to get a book review here on Making Them Readers. It has been a long time, too long, since I posted one. Today, during my lunch break I scoured the shelves for something I wanted to read and share with you and came up with an old favourite of my children’s; ‘Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!’ by Mo Willems.
Mo Willems is a picture book god in our house. We did not start, as most people do with the pigeon. Instead we started with my son’s obsession with Knuffle Bunny, and moved from there to a devoted love for Naked Mole Rat. It was only then that we discovered the pigeon.
There are lots of things to love about this book.
Firstly I like the fact that it begins where it shouldn’t. The story starts on the frontispiece pages and continues through the boring pages where you usually just see copyright and ISBN details. It just takes over the entire book in an anarchic way that suits the personality of the pigeon down to the ground.
The premise of the story is simple. The bus driver goes for a break and asks you, the reader, to watch his bus, and not to let the pigeon drive it while he’s away. This is another thing to love. I really enjoy the fact that very much like a pantomime, the reader is involved from the get go. You are made to interact with the text. It questions the reader and puts them in funny, awkward positions.
As a book to read out loud and share with a group of children, this makes it excellent value and lots and lots of fun for the reader and the children.
The pictures are fantastic. They’re very simple and sparse. Lots of the time it’s just the pigeon and a speech bubble. The pigeon is rendered in the simplest of ways. He’s basically oval shapes with rectangles and triangles, but the way Willems draws him gives him such energy and personality you absolutely know what kind of a pigeon he is, almost without having to read the speech bubbles.
The pigeon is feisty, and difficult, and impossible. He never gives up, and his expressions when he is thwarted are a joy.
The book is wonderful for children, both boys and girls from the very young to the very old. It’s a great example of what a seemingly simple picture book can do in the most sophisticated way. I love it. It’s funny and joyous and thoroughly deserving of its status as a modern classic of children’s picture books.
If you fall in love with the pigeon as much as we did after reading this, then you will be delighted to know that there are a whole series of stories about him available for your delectation and delight.