Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus Book Poster Image

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus



Silliness that appeals to preschoolers.
Parents recommend

What parents need to know

Educational value

This book essentially puts young readers in the position of adult figures as they find themselves having to deal with the persistence and coaxing of the pigeon. Throughout the book, the pigeon begs and pleads to be given the chance to drive the bus, allowing children to interact with the book and make the decisions for the pigeon. Despite his constant pestering, the pigeon ends up following directions and moves on to better things, giving readers the satisfaction of knowing they helped contribute to his happiness.

Positive messages

At the end of the story, the pigeon learns to listen to directions and stop his wheedling. This, in turn, allows him to pursue other things -- dreaming of driving a truck! Although persistence is made out to be a bad thing in this book, the pigeon's steadfastness can be quite an admirable feat. Readers will also learn the satisfaction of saying "no" when necessary.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that with cartoon style pictures and an interactive story, this is just the sort of silliness that will appeal to a preschooler or lower elementary school-age child with a sense of humor.

What's the story?

On the title page, the bus driver addresses the reader directly. He says that he has to be gone for a while and asks if the reader can watch things, but not to let the pigeon drive the bus. As the driver walks off one page, the pigeon walks on the next asking if he can drive the bus. He begs, makes deals, pretends, complains, cajoles, bribes, and then insists that he be allowed to drive the bus, but his wish is not granted; so he fumes. The bus driver returns, thanks the reader, and drives off. The pigeon then spies a truck and a new fantasy takes hold of his imagination.

Is it any good?


Minimalist in approach, the author/artist uses a limited number of very pale colors, and most pages have a single image (usually the pigeon) and a bubble of text. The strength of the story is in its simplicity. The conflict between the two main characters, the bus driver and the pigeon, is one of the most basic in early childhood: "Yes I will" versus "no you won't."

Things gets interesting, however, when each character appeals directly to the reader. This direct discourse from the bus driver and the goofy, wide-eyed pigeon draws the reader, or listener in the case of young children, right between the opposing parties. For young children (who think magically anyway), this is bound to be flattering and fun. Mo Willems, who has won five Emmys as a writer and animator of Sesame Street, makes a fine debut into the world of children's books.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the pigeon's persistence. Why doesn't he take "no" for an answer?

Book details

Author:Mo Willems
Illustrator:Mo Willems
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Hyperion Books for Children
Publication date:February 1, 2004
Number of pages:32
Publisher's recommended age(s):2 - 6
Award:Caldecott Medal and Honors

This review of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Top advice and articles

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Adult Written bykolobok April 9, 2008

Every 3 year old should read this book!

This is a fun book for your young children to read. It gives them a chance to finally say NO to something. This book works miracles in restaurants for my 2 3/4 year old. Whenever she is in a grumpy mood, I need to pull this book out and start reading it. She is all smiles after that!They only thing I didn't like about the book is they use the word HEY....
Teen, 13 years old Written byScreennameGirl September 13, 2011

Good For All Ages

I read this book to my little sister. She loved it! (I did too.) The story is about a pigeon who pleads and pleads you to let him drive the bus, even though the bus drivers tells you not to let him. He says things like "I'll give you five bucks!" and "I've got an idea. Let's play 'Drive The Bus'. I'll go first!". The illustrations aren't the best, but you'll love the way the pigeon's eyes show you his feelings. I loved the book. (This book has the Caldecott Honor.)
Parent of a 7 year old Written byeswanson April 9, 2008

Very cute book!

My 4 yo son loves how silly this book is. The author and illustrator have CLEARLY spent significant time with preschoolers 'cause they've captured kid's expressions of frustration and their desire to negotiate perfectly.


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?