Sunday, July 11, 2010

2004 Caldecott Honor

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

By Mo Willems

Author and illustrator, Mo Willems, hit a homerun with his first children’s book. Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus has a charming true-to-life quality.

The plot of the story is about a wacky pigeon who wants to drive a bus. As the story begins, the bus driver is leaving the bus and asks the reader to watch things until he gets back. But, more importantly, the bus driver reminds the reader to not let the pigeon drive the bus! As soon as the bus driver is out of sight, the scheming pigeon begins his madcap antics to try and convince the reader to let him drive the bus. The pigeon’s hilarious methods of persuasion are typical of many preschoolers. Finally, the pigeon erupts into a full-blown temper tantrum, but the reader doesn’t give in. The bus driver returns, and the pigeon is forced to move on to bigger and better dreams. His next ambition is to drive an eighteen-wheeler!

This book is a favorite among preschool children; however, the story is captivating and funny for kindergarten and first graders as well. The book lends itself to interaction as the young reader can help to decide what happens in the story. I use this story with my first grade students as an introduction for persuasive letter writing activities. After a first read aloud, we discuss the book, and then students use words and their own illustrations of the pigeon to persuade me to let the pigeon drive the bus.

The emotional pigeon’s real-life drama and the book’s unsophisticated illustrations remind me that what may seem to be, at first glance, the simplest or silliest book, may really be the one with most profound message! I highly recommend this book, and be sure to check out the author’s other “pigeon books” which chronicle the pigeon’s other wild adventures.

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