The Pigeon Needs a Bath

Common Sense Media says

Beloved bird resists then enjoys bathing in funny tub tale.





What parents need to know

Educational value

Provides an opportunity to explain why bathing regularly is important. As the pigeon learns, if you don't bathe, you start to look dirty and even smell bad -- and others notice.

Positive messages

Taking a bath can be fun -- especially if you sing, play with bubbles, and bring toys in with you. Bathe regularly or you'll look dirty and star to smell. Some things you resist can end up being fun.

Positive role models

The man who says the pigeon needs a bath knows the score, and tries to get the pigeon to bathe for his own good. The pigeon starts off being stubborn and resistant, but listens to input from others (like the flies!) and gives bathing a try. 

Violence & scariness
Not applicable

A fly smells the pigeon and says, "P.U.!"

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Mo WillemsPigeon Needs a Bath is another funny story starring the big-eyed bird introduced in Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. At first he's stubborn and oppositional, just like many kids are when asked to perform the common nighttime ritual, then has such a ball in the tub he doesn't want to leave! The knowing context makes this a highly relatable story that kids and parents will love. A great bedtime read. 

What's the story?

The story starts on the page before the title, as a man in robe and shower cap asks the reader for help, because "THE PIGEON NEEDS A BATH!" The man exists, leaving the pigeon to speak directly to the reader, saying, "I don't really need a bath!" He offers several reason why he doesn't (including "I feel clean"). Then, after some flies clue him in that he smells and one says, "Take a bath, dude," he gives in -- and likes it so much he stays 10 hours and never wants to leave the tub.

Is it any good?


The Pigeon Needs a Bath is a fun read with a whole lot of attitude. Fans of the pigeon character and nighttime stallers of any kind will relate to his resistance and delaying tactics. And kids will relate to the scenario in which they say no first yet end up enjoying what they're urged to to.

Mo Willems' deadpan wit and spare, distinctive drawings convey so many different emotions, and his familiar device of addressing the reader directly is once again very effective in drawing kids in.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about baths. How often do you think you should take one? Do you think bath time is fun? 

  • Why do kids like the Pigeon books so much. How does this one compare to others? Is it as funny, or funnier?






  • at makes the Pigeon books so popuar

  • What toys do you like to take in the bathtub? 

Book details

Author:Mo Willems
Illustrator:Mo Willems
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:April 1, 2014
Number of pages:32
Publisher's recommended age(s):3 - 5
Read aloud:3 - 5
Available on:Hardback, Paperback

This review of The Pigeon Needs a Bath was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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