The Pigeon series by Mo Willems
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!Hyperion Books for Children, 2003. 1 vol. (unpaged). Picture book
When the bus driver has to leave for a minute, he asks you to watch the bus--but make sure the pigeon doesn't drive it. The pigeon tries begging, pleading, bargaining, and throwing in some trickery and a tantrum to try to get his way.
Ah. What's not to like about Mo Willems? It takes a tough reader not to want to give into the pigeon, but it's fun to see how the story progresses--and what that naughty pigeon does at the end!
The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!Hyperion Books for Children, 2004. 1 vol. (unpaged). Picture book
The pigeon is ecstatic when he finds a hot dog...but before he can enjoy it, the duckling interrupts and asks him what a hot dog tastes like, citing his curiosity as the reason for his questions. The pigeon quickly sees through the guise and has no desire to share his hot dog and goes through all the emotions that come when you know should probably do something but don't want to. Once he has worked through those emotions, he is ready to do the right thing.
I like how in just a few pages, Willems can capture so much of realistic human emotion. The pigeon's justification process is so true to human nature, and then when he doe the right thing, the readers can feel the happiness that comes, right along with him.
The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too!Hyperion Books for Children, 2005. 1 vol. (unpaged) Picture Book
When the bus driver suggests that the pigeon show his "happy face", the pigeon refuses and instead rants about how the driver makes him mad and sad. But when the driver uses a little reverse psychology, the pigeon plays right into his hands.
Ah, Pigeon. So easily upset, and so easily tricked...but in a good way. A good book for kids, this is also a good one for parents who need a little chuckle at all the reverse psychology they have to practice on their kids.
Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!Hyperion Books for Children, 2006. 1 vol. (unpaged). Picture book
The pigeon doesn't want to go to bed--he's not tired, after all, so he uses all of his persuasive powers to try to get permission to stay up late, from saying studies show pigeons don't need much sleeping to invoking the cuteness of his stuffed rabbit to soften you up. But despite his protests, maybe he's just a little bit sleepy after all.
Willems has captured the child versus bedtime battle perfectly, as the pigeon needs his sleep but doesn't want to give into it. While that battle probably isn't so fun when you're dealing with a real child, it's sure fun to read about in this book.
The Pigeon Wants a Puppy!Hyperion Books for Children, 2008. 1 vol. (unpaged) Picture Book
The pigeon has wanted "forever" or "At least since last Tuesday" a puppy. He promises to take care of it and will have lots of fun with it, of course...but when a puppy actually arrives, Pigeon isn't so sure after all.
I picked this book up because I needed a pick-me-up and knew Willems would deliver. Also, I want a puppy--and as I'm trying to convince my husband that we should get one, I sound remarkably like the pigeon! In Pigeon's conversation (we only see his side) with someone, he goes through the begging process, the promising to take care of it (although, he clearly doesn't understand what a puppy needs), the guilt trip process after he's been denied, and then the process of changing his mind once it looks like he's gotten what he wants. It's an excellent example of a what a kid would do when begging for a pet, or a particular toy, but it's done in a way that's very funny and entertaining. I highly enjoyed it...and unlike our beloved Pigeon, I still want a puppy :)
The Duckling Gets a Cookie?!Hyperion Books for Children, 2012. 1 vol. (unpaged). Picture Book
Pigeon is aghast when he sees the duckling has a cookie--with nuts. When he finds out the duckling got the cookie simply by asking, he is even more indignant, since he asks for things all the time and never gets them, like to drive the bus, to have a hot dog party, to have a walrus, and more. Just as the pigeon is having a full-on tantrum about the unfairness of life, the duckling saves the day.
I'm not entirely certain this book has a good message, since it could teach kids that throwing tantrums can lead to them getting what they want...but it's still super fun and cute, so I would totally let any kid read it (and then make sure they knew not to try the tantrum thing to get their way.) You can't help but feel for the pigeon--since I'm sure we've all felt like he does and that the answer is always no and that life is unfair.
4 stars. Clean reads. Don't like this series quite as much as Willems' Elephant and Piggie series, but still, you can't help loving the Pigeon, too.