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Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
- Parents say
- Kids say
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.