Reviews for Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
Booklist Reviews 2003 September #1
/*Starred Review*/ PreS. In his winning debut, Willems finds the preschooler in a pigeon: a cajoling, tantrum-throwing, irresistible bird. "I've got to leave for a little while," says a uniformed bus driver as he strolls off the opening pages. "I thought he'd never leave," says the big-eyed pigeon as he marches onto the next spread and begins his campaign to drive the bus. His tactics, addressed to an unseen audience, are many: he reasons ("I tell you what: I'll just steer"); he whines ("I never get to do anything!"); he's creative ("Let's play 'Drive the Bus'! I'll go first"); he bargains ("C'mon! Just once around the block!"). Finally he erupts in a feather-flying tantrum, followed by a drooping sulk that ends only when a truck arrives, and new road fantasies begin. Librarians may struggle with the endpapers, which contain important story content, but the design is refreshingly minimal, focusing always on the pigeon; he's the only image on nearly every earth-toned spread. Willems is a professional animator, and each page has the feel of a perfectly frozen frame of cartoon footage--action, remarkable expression, and wild humor captured with just a few lines. Preschoolers will howl over the pigeon's dramatics, even as they recognize that he wheedles, blows up, and yearns to be powerful just like they do. ((Reviewed September 1, 2003)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2003 Fall
Story-hour listeners (and beginning readers) will be hooked by this silly title. As soon as the bus driver walks away, leaving his bus unattended, the brazen pigeon gets right to the point: ""Hey, can I drive the bus?"" Clean, sparely designed pages focus attention on the simply drawn but wildly expressive (and emotive) pigeon. This well-paced story encourages audience interaction; in fact, like the wide-eyed pigeon, the book demands it. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Guide Reviews
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2003 #4
Facing the title page, an amiable-looking bus driver addresses listeners directly in a speech balloon: "Listen, I've got to leave for a little while, so can you watch things for me until I get back? Thanks." A reasonable enough request. The caveat? "Oh, and remember: Don't let the pigeon drive the bus!" If story-hour listeners (and beginning readers) haven't already had their curiosity piqued by the silly title and opening endpapers--with said pigeon picturing himself behind the wheel--this appeal from the driver will hook them for sure. And he's not talking about your garden-variety flighty pigeon. As soon as the bus driver walks off the copyright page, the brazen bird gets right to the point: "Hey, can I drive the bus?" Willems's animation background (on Sesame Street and the Cartoon Network) is used here to good effect. Clean, sparely designed pages focus attention on the simply drawn but wildly expressive (and emotive) pigeon, and there's a particularly funny page-turn when a well-mannered double-page spread with eight vignettes of the pleading pigeon gives way to a full-bleed, full-blown temper tantrum. Assuming that young listeners will take on the role of limit-setting grownups and not identify with the powerless but impertinent pigeon ("What's the big deal!?" "No fair!"), this well-paced story encourages audience interaction. In fact, like the wide-eyed pigeon, the book demands it. By the end, the pigeon has moved on--to dreaming about driving an eighteen wheeler. And that's a big 10-4, good buddy. Copyright 2003 Horn Book Magazine Reviews
Kirkus Reviews 2003 April #1
This cinematic adventure, with its simple retro-cartoonish drawings, begins on the opening endpapers when a pale blue pigeon dreams of driving a bus. On the title page, the profile of the strong-jawed bus driver notes in a word bubble that he has to leave for a little while and requests that the reader watch things for him. "Oh and remember: "Don't let the Pigeon Drive the Bus." The text is a handwritten, typewriter-like hand in white word bubbles set on a background of neutral tones of lavender, salmon, celadon, and beige. With the bus in the reader's care, the bus driver nonchalantly strolls away. Turn the page and readers see a close-up of the pigeon, who spends the next 13 well-paced pages begging, pleading, lying, and bribing his way into their hearts. The words "LET ME DRIVE THE BUS!!!" triple in size and leap from the page as the pigeon loses control, flopping across the bottom of the pages. Readers of all ages will nod with recognition of his helplessness and frustration. The bus driver returns, thanks the readers, and drives away, leaving the pigeon with his head hanging in sadness. And just like any young person, he's quickly distracted from his disappointment when a huge truck tire zooms into view. In the end, the pigeon dreams of driving the big red tractor-trailer truck. A first picture book by an Emmy Award-winning writer and animator, listeners will be begging, pleading, lying, and bribing to hear it again and again. (Picture book. 3-5) Copyright Kirkus 2003 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2003 February #2
The premise of this cheeky debut is charmingly absurd. When a bus driver goes on break, he asks the audience to keep an eye on his vehicle and the daft, bug-eyed pigeon who desperately wants to drive it. The pigeon then relentlessly begs readers for some time behind the wheel: "I tell you what: I'll just steer. My cousin Herb drives a bus almost every day! True story." Willems hooks his audience quickly with the pigeon-to-reader approach and minimalist cartoons. The bluish-gray bird, outlined in black crayon, expresses countless, amusing emotions through tiny shifts in eye movement or wing position. The plucky star peeks in from the left side of a page, and exhibits an array of pleading strategies against window-pane panels in mauve, salmon and willow ("I'll be your best friend," he says wide-eyed in one, and whispers behind a wing, "How 'bout I give you five bucks?"). Finally he erupts in a full-spread tantrum on an orange background, the text outlined in electric yellow ("Let me drive the bus!!!"). When the driver returns and takes off, the bird slumps dejectedly until a big red truck inspires a new round of motoring fantasies. Readers will likely find satisfaction in this whimsical show of emotions and, perhaps, a bit of self-recognition. Ages 2-6. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal Reviews 2003 May
PreS-Gr 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.