This week we're taking a closer look at Powell's Pick of the Month The Pigeon HAS to Go to School! by Mo Willems.
What if there’s math at school? Or reading? What if there’s too much to learn? The Pigeon’s head might pop off! What better way could there be to explore the fear of the unknown than hand-in-hand with Mo Willems and our favorite fussy, fretful, rant-y, rave-y, super lovable bird? — Gigi L.
The Pigeon loves hot dogs (and cookies). The Pigeon loves buses (and staying up late). The Pigeon loves puppies (and walruses). But you know what this bird doesn’t love? School. It’s too math-y. Too read-y. And too scary for a little pigeon who hasn’t yet left the nest.
The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!
, Mo Willems’s latest picture book in the Pigeon series, taps into children’s fears of change and the unknown in his characteristically hilarious and on-point style. When the book opens, Pigeon is slowly ramping up his argument (the unsympathetic might say “tantrum”) for why going to school is a terrible idea. He’s worried that it will be too easy or too hard, that the teacher won’t like him, or that his head will explode from knowledge overload. Willems’s deceptively simple line drawings catch the Pigeon in various stages of protest and melodramatic anguish that any parent of small children will recognize. More fun is that children will recognize themselves in Pigeon’s poses and outbursts, as Willems gently guides them to laugh at and overcome some of their fears.
Willems is profoundly talented at using minimal words and images to communicate abstract emotions; the best example of this comes when Pigeon finally admits he’s scared: generally depicted in a full-body close-up, on this page Pigeon is small and positioned far away from the reader, physically closing in on himself. This departure from Pigeon’s normal bluster and flamboyance instantly communicates to young readers how small and nervous Pigeon is feeling, and how difficult it is for him to admit that.
Luckily for Pigeon and the reader, admitting his fears allows Pigeon to overcome them. The fact that school involves a BUS!!! doesn’t hurt either.
Check out the rest of our Picks of the Month here