Sunday, August 11, 2019

Book Review: The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! by Mo Willems

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Funny look at starting school
Cons: Some of Pigeon’s concerns don’t seem to be ones kids would share
The Bottom Line:
Pigeon must start school
Comedy with fun ending
Charming for young kids

Is Pigeon Ready for a New Experience?

Mo Willems has turned out many wonderful picture books over the years, but he doesn’t return to his first creation, Pigeon, as frequently as some of his others.  However, he has given Pigeon a new adventure this year with The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!

Pigeon has just learned that he has to start attending school.  Surely, he doesn’t have to do that.  After all, he already knows everything.  Will there be math?  There are too many letters!  And Pigeon is not a morning bird.  Will anything be able to change his mind?

For those unfamiliar with these particular picture books, Pigeon is the only character in the books (usually), and the story is told via dialogue as Pigeon tries to convince us to go with his way of thinking.  Of course, he eventually changes his mind, often by his own arguments.  The result is fun and clever.

I will freely admit that I am a bigger fan of Mo Willems’s Elephant and Piggie books than the Pigeon, although I can still find his adventures quite fun.  This book is no exception.  I appreciated the tie in to one of Pigeon’s earlier adventures at the end as Pigeon is changing his mind.

Obviously, the idea is the child reading the book (or being read to) will sympathize with Pigeon.  However, I felt that some of his arguments about not going to school weren’t something kids would have.  On the other hand, I did appreciate that, by the end of the book, Pigeon had realized most of his fears were unfounded and he was enthusiastic about going to school.  (Personally, I’m still with him about having to wake up early to go anywhere.)  While many kids are excited about starting school, I could easily see this book helping those who aren’t ready for this big step.

As usual the illustrations are stylized, and they provide a charm all their own.  Kids will absolutely love them and appreciate some gags hidden in them.

It’s hard to believe that school is already starting (some around me are starting tomorrow).  If your kid is starting school in the next few weeks, they’ll enjoy seeing that The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!

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