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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. When the pigeon says, "Hey, I've got an idea. Let's play `Drive the Bus'. I'll go first", the kids say no. And when Mr. Pigeon collapses in a fury, the kids do not relent. Finally, they have been placed in the position of their parents. They get to tell someone exactly what he cannot do. And they love it.
In the end, it's hilarious. Who can resist this foul when he pulls every trick out of his feathery bag? From, "How `bout I give you five bucks", to a mock-innocent wide-eyed, "I have dreams you know!". In the end, the pigeon goes on to bigger and better dreams (complete with CB radio) and the children reading the story know they've participated in the happy ending. Joy all around. Is this book deserving of a Caldecott Honor? No ladies and gentlemen. It is deserving of a Caldecott MEDAL. But like the pigeon's, this is just a dream.
1313 comments395 of 410 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 11, 2003
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.
0Comment127 of 139 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 26, 2004
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.
0Comment57 of 60 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 29, 2005
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.
11 comment36 of 39 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 18, 2003
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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on March 31, 2003
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.
0Comment18 of 20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 13, 2005
We've now purchased 3 copies of this book - the original for my grandchildren, a copy for a friend's child, and now one for my granddaughter's kindergarten class library. Every kid in our sphere absolutely LOVES this book! I read it to my granddaughter's kindergarten class when we celebrated her 5th birthday...and gave a copy to the class library...and the kids still come up to me when I go to pick her up after school, talking about the book or pretending to be the pigeon! One of the mothers told me that her daughter made them buy her her own copy, she loved it so much! Absolutely recommend this book for any 4-to-6 year old; and even the younger ones (age 2-to-3) love the book, too.
0Comment11 of 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on November 24, 2004
This is the greatest book EVER!! The illustrations are fabulous and the plot line is hilarious. I read this book to my niece's first grade class and they absolutely loved it. My niece liked it so much she needed a copy of her own when the school book fair came around. I definitely recommend it. And make sure to check out the other "Pigeon" books like "The Pigeon Finds a Hotdog"...great book too. There are two more to come out in April '05 and I can't wait!
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on June 10, 2003
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus is defintely the best children's book I have seen in a long time. Instantly ranking with me in the Where the Wild Things Are and Harold and the Purple Crayon category of excellence, DLTPDTB combines expressive illustration, thoughtful writing and a wonderful level of interaction with the reader.
Mo Willems has created a very feisty pigeon who will have children and parents telling it "no!" while also secretly rooting for it to succeed. Quick and fun, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus has been as big a hit with the adults in my life as it has with the children. An award-winner for sure.
0Comment10 of 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 20, 2005
My three year old son and I simply adore this book. He was "reading" it to me about three days after getting it for Christmas (and reading it about 5 times a night.) We still laugh-out-loud with every reading! (I don't know who has more fun, mom or the three year old.) We just love the 'naughty' little pigeon that will say anything to get the child to let him drive the bus - and the illustrations are simple so little hearts understand exactly what the pigeon is feeling on every page. In addition, it's short enough to be a quick read right before bed and provides an excellent end-of-the-day laugh together. I highly recommend it!
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