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Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

Last updated Monday, August 28, 2006

Author: Mo Willems
Date of Publication: 2003
ISBN: 078681988X
Grade Level: Kindergarten    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Sep. 2006

Synopsis: From School Library Journal 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.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  What is a pigeon? Where do pigeons live? What sound do they make? (Imitate pigeons.)
•  Have you ever wanted really badly to do something, so that you keep asking even after your parents or teacher say no? What are some words you use to beg for something? What else do you do to get what you want? Did it work?
•  Why do you think you weren?t allowed to do what you wanted?
•  Has anyone ever asked you to ignore or break a rule? What did they do to convince you? Did you? Was that a good idea or not?
•  This book talks to the reader. Have the kids answer the questions from the bus driver and the pigeon; make this a participatory reading.

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  What does the bus driver warn us about on the title page?
•  Is the idea of a pigeon driving a bus silly or real?
•  How many ways does the pigeon try to get us to say yes? What are they?

Craft ideas:
•  Cut a square to be a bus; then cut holes for the windows. Color the bus and write ?BUS? on the side. Cut out a circle for the pigeon?s head, a neck, and a beak; glue them together, and then glue them in one of the bus windows.
•  Make a storyboard of the things you did to try and get your parents to see your way. (See pictures in the middle of the book) Use a sheet of paper and divide it into 4 or more boxes; draw pictures of what you did to get your way, i.e., crying, begging, acting sweet, tantrum...

Special activities:
•  Play a circle game with one child in the center. The child in the center goes up to another child and tries to beg to be allowed to drive the bus, making a face or doing something silly. The child being asked has to say with a straight face, ?No, you can?t drive the bus!? If the child smiles, then he/she is in the circle next. (This is a variant of the game ?Honey, I Love You,? if anyone has ever played that.) Try to give each child a turn in the center.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!