Title: The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!
Author: Mo Willems
Illustrator: Mo Willems
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Children’s picture book
Book format: Paperback
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Description:  The Pigeon is about to get schooled!  Do you think he should go? 

*Free copy provided by publisher for review…

Review:  Wow, I laughed so much while reading this, it’s the perfect book to share with kids who are reluctant to go to school. ‘The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!’ is a little shorter than A4 in size and is filled with thick matt pages of both illustrations and text. The story is a simple one but it’s something that many children might relate to with Pigeon explaining to the reader about how he doesn’t need to go to school and listing all the reasons why. The more he thinks about school the more he reasons that he doesn’t need to go, but is he just in a bad mood about going, or is he more worried than first appears, and is there anything that will change his mind?

The Pigeon HAS to Go to School book page image one
©The Strawberry Post

I loved reading this and I actually laughd several times throughout the story. Although the whole story is Pigeon talking to us, the way it’s done with Pigeon asking the reader questions, getting the reader to ask him questions and the whole way this is done feels so engaging and like those reading are a part of the story. I think I enjoyed this all the more than some readers too because I can still vividly remember my reluctance of going to school for the first time and the way I tried to reason why I shouldn’t go. Pigeon thinks just like I did, and I’m sure many children do, and because of this it’s good to see how the story progresses towards the end with Pigeon coming to a good conclusion about school.

The illustrations are very simple but so funny. There’s something about Pigeon’s look, and the attitude that can be shown with such a simple drawing, that just makes me smile. There’s very little in the way of a background image, mainly a background colour and whatever Pigeon is talking about, but there is very little in each image and this makes you focus more on what he is talking about. For some reason I just really enjoyed the way this is, despite always liking detailed images in picture books. Yet this simple design somehow really works and just made me feel more engaged with Pigeon’s story.

As Pigeon gets more and more worked up about the idea of going to school, he eventually realises that school is not so bad. I won’t say exactly how he comes to this realisation but it’s a good way to end the story and if kids have the same concerns about school, they might have their own anxiety and worries alleviated by thinking about what Pigeon says. There’s even a fun image at the back, last double page of the book which shows the classroom filled with other students and Pigeon who looks very different from the first pages of the book!

The Pigeon HAS to Go to School book page image two
©The Strawberry Post

This book is really good and I know it would have been a good book for someone to read with me when I was afraid of going to school as a child. Plenty of children feel reluctant or even fearful of school, and it’s important to help them realise that school is nothing to be feared and somewhere they can be happy and have fun. I do think this book does a good job of showing this message, it’s certainly one I would have loved reading as a child and even as an adult I do love the images and the way the story is told. Overall a really lovely book and it’s made me interested in the other Pigeon books by Mo Willems too!

What do you think of this book?  Were you or your children reluctant to go to school for the first time?  Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂