Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog and The Pigeon Wants a Puppy by Mo Willems

Why would you ever read incoherent TV tie-ins or simpering tales about pale pink diamond encrusted ballerinas, when books like this exist? Mo Willems is an author worth your time. No ballet-dancing mice in these. No contrived dialogue, or lazily drawn pictures in these.

I bought Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog in The Works years ago, in one of those 4 books for a fiver promotions they do. A pointed at it and said "gah!", which to my mind meant "please buy me this book, Mummy!" A said "gah" a lot, which goes some way to explaining why we have such an inordinately huge number of books.

I read it when we got home, and then remember telling Mr M when he got in from work that he just had to read this book, even though A was already asleep upstairs. It was an instant hit.

It's cartoon-strip style and very simply drawn. The amount of different emotions Willems can express with a certain shape of an eyelid or flutter of pigeon wing is incredible. The conceits in the stories are simple. The pigeon finds a hot dog that the duck wants to eat. The pigeon wants a puppy, until he meets one and is terrified. The text is minimalist and snappy. You can tell it's American. but it doesn't pose a comprehension barrier for a British toddler. (Aside - not like when I used to read Judy Blume et al as a pre-teen. I used to get really confused when they said things like "That's it! Period" Why, I thought, do Americans regularly refer to menstrual bleeding when they are trying to emphasise a point? It was many, many years before I realised that period in fact meant full-stop. It all made a lot more sense then).

A and C loved these books as babies, toddlers, and they still enjoy reading them now. They particularly enjoy Mr M's dramatic renditions of Hot Dog, which are delivered in his own personal performance-art style. I am quite sure you will enjoy creating your own Pigeon reading style.

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