WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG FOR

WE INTERRUPT THIS BLOG FOR A FEW CHOICE WORDS FROM TINY GIRL

First, "Daddy's funny!"
And, further, "I love you, Daddy!"
Both phrases debuted this morning, and will immediately be placed in heavy rotation, along with Tiny's earlier smash hits, "Read a book, Daddy!' and "I don't want to!"


CRITIC'S CORNER: The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog!

Mo Willems' "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus" is at the top of anyone's list of the best picture books of the past few years - simple, interactive, hilarious, and totally on message: The bus driver has to step away for a moment. And so it falls to you, dear reader, to prevent this clever pigeon from driving the bus, no matter how much he may plead with you. At the turn of the page, begin shouting No.

Unfortunately, "The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog" is the "Unbreakable" to Willems' "Sixth Sense." The Pigeon is back, as excitable as ever, and this time he's happened upon a hot dog in the street. (First problem: Kids, don't pick up hot dogs you find on the street. But we'll let it slide.) As he prepares to devour the frank, a duckling appears and begins asking, in a variety of ways, just what a hot dog tastes like. At this point, The Pigeon immediately susses out the duckling's plan (as the average three-year-old would not): The yellow interloper wants the hot dog. And so The Pigeon loudly rejects the duckling's subtle intimations. Eventually (spoiler alert) they decide to share the discarded dog.

"The Pigeon Finds" fails for this critic because:

- Although it brings back the visual and verbal style of the original, this time the reader has no stake in the story, which was the key to "Don't Let." We don't much care if The Pigeon keeps the dog or not.

- The duckling (who reminds us of Foghron Leghorn's young foil, Junior) is too subtle; the reader doesn't understand why he gets The Pigeon so worked up, unless maybe The Pigeon is off his meds.

"The Pigeon Finds" is still superior to almost all of what's available for preschoolers. But while The Pigeon's increasing consternation makes the book a fun read with some reliable laughs, and kids will be pleased with the ending, you're better off reading the original 39 more times instead of investing in this sequel.


AND WHILE WE'RE UP . . .

Thumbs at half-stand as well for Willems' other new offering book, "Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale," in which a dad struggles to understand that his toddler is telling him that he's left her bunny blanket at the laundromat. It suffers mainly from being more about the parent than the child.


IN OTHER PIGEON NEWS

We DO highly recommend downloading some "Pigeon" multimedia from Willems' Hyperion Books page. You can print out both a "Pigeon" coloring sheet, and a top-drawer PDF, "Learn how to draw the pigeon!"

(FYI: According to Amazon, the "Pigeon" series is going to roll out at least two new books in the months ahead, "The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too!" and "The Pigeon Loves Things That Go!")

August 31, 2004 | Permalink | Subscribe to RSS

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