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Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Hardcover – April 1, 2003

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Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Exclusive: The Pigeon: A Life in Pictures
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Back in 1993, I was cartooning for a ’zine. Due to a lack of other material, we decided to make the December issue a sketchbook with just my cartoons. I have been producing small cartoon and story sketchbooks for clients and pals every year since then. In 1998, my sketchbook featured a new character, the Pigeon. Born in the margins of a 1997 notebook filled with potential picture book ideas, he was complaining that his ideas were better than mine. To mollify him, I put him in that year’s sketchbook. The original sketchbook was much longer than the final published volume, but some of the lines were the same.
In late 1999, an agent essentially agreed with the Pigeon and rejected my picture book ideas. She suggested I revisit my sketchbook with an eye to turning it into a picture book. My wife was working at a school library at the time and had read the sketchbook to her kids, who had enjoyed it. So I suppose it wasn’t too crazy an idea. I started to revise the layout and work with color. At the end of 2001, after several dozen rejections because the book was “unusual,” an editor decided that “unusual” was a good thing. Plus, it made her laugh. I began reworking and rewriting. The Pigeon was now starting to look more like his mature self. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! was published in April 2003 and, to my surprise, proved to be popular quite quickly. Thankfully, that Pigeon doodle in the notebook back in 1997 was so insistent. He was right!

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 2-A brilliantly simple book that is absolutely true to life, as anyone who interacts with an obdurate three-year-old can attest. The bus driver has to leave for a while, and he makes one request of readers: "Don't let the pigeon drive the bus." It's the height of common sense, but the driver clearly knows this determined pigeon and readers do not-yet. "Hey, can I drive the bus?" asks the bird, at first all sweet reason, and then, having clearly been told no by readers, he begins his ever-escalating, increasingly silly bargaining. "I tell you what: I'll just steer," and "I never get to do anything," then "No fair! I bet your mom would let me." In a wonderfully expressive spread, the pigeon finally loses it, and, feathers flying and eyeballs popping, screams "LET ME DRIVE THE BUS!!!" in huge, scratchy, black-and-yellow capital letters. The driver returns, and the pigeon leaves in a funk-until he spies a huge tractor trailer, and dares to dream again. Like David Shannon's No, David (Scholastic, 1998), Pigeon is an unflinching and hilarious look at a child's potential for mischief. In a plain palette, with childishly elemental line drawings, Willems has captured the essence of unreasonableness in the very young. The genius of this book is that the very young will actually recognize themselves in it.
Dona Ratterree, New York City Public Schools
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 2 - 6 years
  • Lexile Measure: 120L (What's this?)
  • Series: Pigeon
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion Press; 1st edition (April 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078681988X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786819881
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 0.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (619 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #715 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

389 of 404 people found the following review helpful By E. R. Bird HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on January 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Because this book won a 2003 Caldecott Honor, you're probably going to hear a lot of people complaining about it. "Oh the art isn't beautiful". "Oh my four-year-old child could've drawn it". "Oh it isn't Caldecott-worthy" (whatever that may mean). The fact of the matter is, I was a little shocked too. This book won a Caldecott honor? The one where an amusing pigeon tries every bit of persuasion he can think of to wheedle himself into the driving seat of a bus? Now I've loved this book since it was first published. When I first read it I laughed out loud. Quick! Recite the children's books you love that make you laugh out loud! Not so easy to think of, are they? So I've returned to this little treasure in the hopes of discovering why that Caldecott nominating committee loved this book as much as my pretty self. Could it have been the artwork? Deceptively simple is the best way to describe its style. The pigeon isn't exactly a Michaelangelo. He's drawn with thick black lines, shaded in with blue and yellow. But has a Michaelangelo ever really amused you? Look a little closer at this pigeon and you realize the book's genius. His oversized eyeballs exquisitely display every emotion possible. From sweet and innocent to consumed with an all-encompassing rage. The pages wherein the pigeon completely freaks out and screams at the top of his lungs, "LET ME DRIVE THE BUS!!!" is the temper tantrum of a two-year-old rendered into an aviary form.
But do kids like this book? Well, ladies and gentlemen, the answer is yes. In fact, clever readers let the kids hearing this tale say, "NO!" every time the pigeon tries a new tactic. When the pigeon says, "Please", the kids say no. When the pigeon says, "I tell you what: I'll just steer", the kids say no.
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126 of 137 people found the following review helpful By David LaRochelle on November 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Truly a masterpiece! After many readings, this story still makes me laugh out loud. With only a few simple lines and a minimal amount of dialouge, Mo Willems has created a memorable character in this coniving pigeon who will do anything to drive a bus.
The local librarian told me that this book was a big hit at story hour, with the children actively telling the pigeon "No! You can't drive the bus!" Maybe I still have the mind set of a preschooler, because I found it just as entertaining, so much so that my best friend gave it to me for my 43rd birthday. In my opinion, it's one of the best children's books of the year.
True story.
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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Chris B. on July 26, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My four-year-old has gone totally gah-gah over this book (we've read it ever night for the past two weeks since checking it out at the library)! Most of the picture books she's attracted to have brightly colored, detailed illustrations. In contrast, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus utilizes simple line drawings (with a hip 60's flair) in light, cool-toned hues. Initially, I thought the rather plain presentation might not hold my daughters interest, but just the opposite has proved to be true -- rather than spreading her attention all over the page, she concentrates on the subject at hand (usually the pigeon, sometimes the bus driver) and what he is saying. She laughs hysterically at the way in which the pigeon presents his various arguments for driving the bus. She says, "Mom, he sounds just like me when I try to talk you into letting me do things that you say I'm not old enough to do yet." She also says she likes how the pigeon is always looking at us when he talks.

This is a book adult readers will enjoy every bit as much as the young listeners they're reading to.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Paula L. Craig on October 29, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This ridiculous book is the best way I know to teach a child that sometimes it's important to say no, over and over and over again. Teaching a kid how to say no, and how to recognize when somebody else is manipulating you to try and get you to say yes, is one of the most valuable social lessons possible for anyone. (This book strikes me as a better way to prevent sexual molestation and drug abuse than any program I've ever seen put forward by child advocate groups.) Great for older children as well as preschoolers, not to mention adults. Don't miss it.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jilly ILLY on April 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The title of this book begs the reader to open it and find out more about this enterprising pigeon and his desire to drive a bus. I couldn't stop laughing as I read this book and then again when I focused on the illustrations. I loved the expressions on the pigeon's face and the way the pigeon behaved in, at times, a cheeky fashion (peeking around the page to see if the bus driver was gone yet). The pigeon definitely reminded me of all of the times children beg their parents to do something. I'm sure children will just LOVE this book, it is already my favorite!
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 31, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Willems, writer and animator of Sesame Street fame, makes his picture-book debut with an irresistible bit of fowl play. Though this enterprising blue pigeon dreams of driving a city bus, even before the book starts the bus drive has asked the book's audience not to let the pigeon take the wheel. The pigeon pleads, bargains, and otherwise attempts to trick and cajole the viewer into granting his humble wish to drive the bust (after all, his "cousin Herb drives a bus almost every day. True story"). As a readalone or a readaloud, this increasingly desperate one-sided conversation assumes the cooperative interaction of its audience; even the youngest auditor can join the fun because the answer is always, say it loud, say it often, "NO!" The frustrated fowl's anguish takes center stage in the streamlined yet remarkably articulate illustrations; tidy charcoal outlines that reveal the sure hand of a seasoned animator are set against plain creamy backgrounds of various muted shades. The simplicity of the illustrations and the pigeon's large, expressive eye fix the view in a compellingly dynamic and focused relationship. By putting the child in the deliciously empowering position of being the one to say no to the outrageous request of the pigeon, this avian misadventure begs to be read again and again.
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