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Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Hardcover – April 1, 2003
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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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Top Customer Reviews
Though we're giving this book to our 2 year old grandson on his birthday, I wish I'd had it when I was full-time babysitting our 4-1/2 year old grandson at that age! Just love him to pieces, all of that spunk and fire, but - out of our three grandsons - he's the one who seemed to be "pushing the limits" from Day 1! This is an interactive type of book, beginning with a bus driver telling your child that he has to leave for a bit, asking that your child keep an eye on things while he's gone and to - above all - "Don't let the Pigeon drive the bus!" Now what child isn't going to be immediately drawn into a book that puts HIM/HER in charge?!
Throughout the book (with VERY simple, pale illustrations - not a lot of busyness on each page), the Pigeon looks directly at and speaks directly to your child, using all of the methods of pleading to get your little person to give in to letting him drive the bus that he/she might typically use to try to get his/her way with YOU (i.e."Please?", "I never get to do anything!", "How 'bout I give you five bucks?", "No fair!", etc.) The Pigeon finally resorts to throwing a physical and verbal tantrum... "LET ME DRIVE THE BUS!!!" and then sulks when he's still not allowed to. The driver returns, thanks your child, and then it ends with a big semi-trailer arriving, the Pigeon eyeing it and saying, "Hey...", ready to begin the whole scenario again - as children will do!
This is a silly little book where it'll be interesting to watch your child's reaction to having the tables turned!
The book opens with the bus driver telling us that he has to leave for a little bit and asking the audience to keep an eye on things. Oh, and "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus." The pigeon, of course, shows up immediately asking, begging, cajoling and bargaining to be allowed to drive the bus. The audience (the child) must repeatedly tell the pigeon "No." The pigeon tries every trick in the little kid's "I want my way" handbook until, finally, it has a complete and utter tantruming meltdown.
Some reviewers have complained that the pigeon displays terribly inappropriate behavior which encourages children to whine and tantrum. I have to wonder whether such reviewers have actually met any actual children. The children I've met (including my own two) don't need any instruction on how to whine or tantrum. What this book does is show them how silly they look doing it. And how pointless it is, because, after all, the pigeon still doesn't get to drive the bus.
Just as kids love to act out parental roles with their dolls and stuffed animals, they will love telling the pigeon "No." The pigeon, like most children, however, is not deterred for long. It just sets its sights on a new goal.
The illustrations are very simple, but nevertheless they perfectly capture the pigeon's expressions as it goes from wheedling to whining to tantruming to moping. Overall a truly delightful book.