FICTION

The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!

Disney/Hyperion. Jul. 2019. 40p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781368046459.
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PreS-Gr 2–Willems’s famed feathered protagonist faces the inevitable with a winning mix of chuckle-inducing bravado, honest emotion, and a child-grabbing point of view. The pigeon is not happy about the prospect of launching his educational career, flapping his wings in desperation as the book begins (“WAIT! Don’t read that title!”) and spouting a series of fervent objections that range from the familiar to the delightfully absurd: “Why do I have to go to school?” “I already know EVERYTHING!” “Does ‘school’ start in the morning? Because you know what I’m like in the morning! It is NOT pretty.” “What if the teacher doesn’t like pigeons?” “WHAT IF I LEARN TOO MUCH!?! My head might pop off.” Utilizing muted monochromatic backdrops, the pages are dominated by the vividly drawn character, and his dramatic body language and ever-expressive single eye accentuate each and every comic beat. When the pigeon finally gets to the heart of the matter and reveals his true feelings (“I’m…scared”), he is drawn much smaller, with thinner lines and tighter body posture. Never fear, this lovable character works his way through his emotions (raising questions that parents can discuss with their own soon-to-be-students) and finishes on an upbeat note—total jubilation at his means of transportation: a school bus!
VERDICT Deftly balancing genuine concerns with humor and buoyant reassurance, this irresistible offering starring a fan favorite is sure to become a first-day-of-school classic

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