Although I was once a Sesame Street aficionado, I lost touch with the show right about the time my younger brother started kindergarten.
It’s a shame really because that’s when Mo Willems started script writing and animating for the popular television show.
Honestly, since I have read Willems’ work, I am tempted to go back and watch the Sesame Street 1994-2002 seasons … he’s that good.
Realistically, I’ll probably stick to reading his collection of children’s books. Willems is one of the greatest contemporary children’s author-illustrators and no kid’s book collection is complete without him.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, published in 2003, is Willems’ first book. The story is unique in that it speaks directly to you, the reader. It starts out with the bus driver explaining that he needs to leave for a while. He asks if you can watch things until he gets back and he strongly reminds you not to let the pigeon drive the bus.
As soon as the bus driver is gone, the pigeon appears and asks to drive the bus. The reader’s job is to stay in charge and say, no.
This is great fun for kids who are often hearing “no” themselves. The pigeon begs and pleads to drive the bus. At first things are calm. The pigeon tries to give examples of other driving pigeons.
His attempts at convincing the reader sound a lot like what you would hear a kid saying to a parent: “I never get to do anything!”
After the pigeon’s last attempt at rationality with classic arguments such as “I’ll be your best friend!”, he erupts into a full-on temper tantrum. There are feathers-a-flying as the pigeon screams “LET ME DRIVE THE BUS!!!”
Of course the reader manages to keep the pigeon in line and the bus driver returns, satisfied with the reader’s help. The pigeon is dejected, but quickly perks up when a big red truck drives by and his head is filled with images of driving that fine piece of machinery.
The drawings in this picture book are minimalist, but they portray an impressive amount of attitude and emotion. The text allows for all sorts of voice changes.
It’s a fun read.
Kids will definitely identify with the moody pigeon and see the silliness in that kind of behaviour. But will they stop throwing tantrums themselves? You never know your luck …
If you like this pigeon adventure, Willems has also published Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay up Late!, The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! and The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! These stories are written in the same style and will surely provide great entertainment.
The Pigeon books are particularly appealing for kids 2 to 6 years old.
You may find Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus at Mac’s Fireweed Books in Whitehorse as it was on order at the time of print.
To purchase a used copy, you may get lucky and find it at Well-Read Books.
You can also take the book out of the public libraries in Whitehorse and Tagish. Other locations can order them from one of these libraries, too.