Wednesday, 22 June 2011

review: The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog

"words and pictures" by Mo Willems
Hyperion Books for Children, 2004
anthropomorphism picture book

The pigeon from Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus is back and this time has discovered a miracle upon miracles: a precious hot dog! Just as Pigeon's about to chow down, an innocent-eyed duckling makes his way onto the scene. His sly, artless questions soon irritate Pigeon to a point where something must be done... but who will be the first bird to crack?
The cover:

The conflict that the title doesn't suggest is established well, with Pigeon's first bite already interrupted by the duckling's proclamation of the title. And I don't know if you can tell from that image, but there's a little bubble below the duckling's head that says "With Special Guest Star: The Duckling!" OMG, so cute.

The book:

So I never watched Sesame Street, but apparently Mo Willems wrote for it. And I'll say that if his writing on the screen is as good as his picture books, I'll happily look up Sesame Street on YouTube. He just has that style.

The whole story is told through dialogue, and it's interesting to note that Pigeon gets speech bubbles while the Duckling's talking is just written out in hovering letters over his round head. This dialogue-only approach keeps the pacing tight and the conflict clear.

The amount of expression and emotion Willems manages to portray in his crayon-outlined line drawings is stunning, marvelous and awesome. Pigeon daintily cocks a foot back in preparation for the delectable first bite of hot dog; the Duckling looks at Pigeon from the corner of his eye with his wingtips folded demurely in the perfect I'm-so-sweet position. And get this -- all the text is written out. Pigeon's speech is in serif font, while the Duckling's dialogue is in sans serif.

Pigeon's tantrum-y outbursts will have readers of all ages grinning, as will the fantastic endpages and witty ending.

Rating: 4.7 out of 5