The Pigeon HAS to go to School

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Mo Willems, The Pigeon HAS to go to School, Walker Books, August 2019, 40 pp., RRP $16.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781406389012

Who doesn’t love Mo Willems’ pigeon? Ever since he first appeared in Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, the one-eyed bird with the loud personality has endeared himself to readers young and old. In this latest episode the pigeon comes up with many reasons why he doesn’t need to go to school.

Addressing many of the fears of preschoolers about to go to ‘big’ school, he tries any excuse to get out of going, from claiming that he knows everything already to retreating from this position by worrying about having to do Maths. The worries and concerns grow until he finally asks how he is going to get to school. The answer is obvious – on a bus! This totally reverses his negative attitude and he can’t wait to get on board.

In addition to the humorous artwork we have come to associate with the Pigeon series and the cleverness of having the character in the book talk directly to the reader, there are many ‘in’ jokes for young readers and their adult companions who have read the previous titles in the series. From a double page spread of empty desks at the beginning of the book, the end shows every seat occupied with a range of animal characters, many of which are from other titles in the series.

Mo Willems is one of the best picture book creators and this latest title adds another excellent title to his body of work. Recommended.

Reviewed by Lynne Babbage

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