Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

This is a highly original and extremely funny book by Mo Willems (see previous review of Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct).

The book is written in speech bubbles – a bus driver appears and asks the reader to mind the bus whilst he has to leave for a little while.  He makes one key stipulation: “Don’t let the pigeon drive the bus!”.  Almost immediately the pigeon appears, and sets out to convince you that he should, in fact, be allowed to drive the bus.  He tries every tactic he can think of – “I’ll be your best friend?” – until finally exploding in a spectacular avian tantrum: “LET ME DRIVE THE BUUUSSSS!”

The genius of this book lies in the interaction.  It is the child being read to who has to say ‘No, Pigeon, you can’t drive the bus!’, something that most vocal toddlers will love doing – even if they are just at the stage where they can shout ‘NO!’  And what is particularly clever is that it reflects the toddler’s typical behaviour to him or herself in a quietly negative light.  The child plays parent to the rebellious, manipulative pigeon, and cannot help but learn from him how not to behave.  Adults will also enjoy the well-worn phrases of childhood: “I never get to do ANYthing!”

This is both fun and funny, and the sulky pigeon is already a hugely popular character with those in the know.  A wonderful book for sharing and shouting about. And at.

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