One of the most famous birds in modern literature is back and he is in perfect form in the latest offering by Mo Willems. Through its sassy story and energetic artwork, The Pigeon Needs a Bath will both entertain and educate.
With his latest book Pigeon book, Willems once again creates takes an ordinary routine and creates an imaginative tale. Pigeon just took a bath a month ago. Or at least Pigeon thinks it was that recent. At any rate, “clean” and “dirty” are just words, right? Pigeon feels clean and isn’t that what should matter? After all, aren’t there more important things in life? Pigeon has a litany of complaints, causing the suspense to grow, and making readers wonder if he will ever get a bath. Adults will relate to how difficult getting children to take a bath can be, while children themselves will be eager to see where the story will go, making this picture book a win for all ages.
There are additional reasons too for liking The Pigeon Needs a Bath. Per the usual routine, the bus driver (clad in a shower cap and bathrobe) opens the story by asking readers to help convince the pigeon to take a bath. With the turn of each page, Willems anticipates denials: Pigeon demands, “When was the last time YOU had a bath?!” My favorite spreads are of the flies, who join readers in pleading with Pigeon to take a bath. There’s also the blend of simple phrases such as “I feel clean” and “I don’t smell anything” with sophisticated vocabulary such as: pretty recently, unimportant things, purely coincidental. Best of all is the ending twist. Not only is Pigeon finally convinced of how important bathing is, but now finds he might just want to play in the tub forever….
Then there is the design. Endpapers bookend the story, including a funny turnabout for the duckling, here a rubber bath toy. Page backgrounds appropriately modulate from dirty browns to fresh blues. The large and dramatic font ramps up the energy of the story. Through simple flat-line illustrations, Pigeon’s full range of expressions are easy to discern. When Pigeon is finally forced to step into the water, it takes 28 little panels (and one medium-size one) in which he fusses over the tub and its myriad inadequacies, for him to change his attitude. Later, there are eight more panels that display what happen when Pigeon settles to a bath. My favorite page is one that simply reads, in the biggest possible print, TEN HOURS LATER.
For those of who are familiar with Willems, you may be surprised that this is my first introduction to his famous character of The Pigeon. It won’t be my last!
My rating? Bag it: Carry it with you. Make it a top priority to read.
How would you rate this book?