Ashley Boyles, supervisor of the Craighead County Juvenile Department, will serve as reader for
the June Stories in the Forest program at 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 7, at The Mall at Turtle Creek. He will read Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus and Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late, both by Mo Willems.
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus is a simple yet hilarious children’s book. The story starts when a bus driver takes a break from his route and cautions the readers not to let the pigeon drive. The driver no sooner leaves than a “volunteer” springs up to take his place.
Certainly it makes good sense not to let a pigeon drive a bus. But the pigeon is relentless in his insistence. “Hey, I can drive the bus,” he announces. But the “readers” – typically youngsters from 4 to 6 years of age – are loud in their response – “No!”
But he won’t give up. “I’ll tell you what, I’ll just steer,” he suggests. But the readers say “No!” The fowl bargaining continues with childish statements such as “I never get to do anything!” and “No fair! I’ll bet your mom would let me!” Each time the readers say “No!”
Eventually, the pigeon loses all composure. He rants and screams: “LET ME DRIVE THE BUS!”
The bus driver returns, and the pigeon leaves moping. At least he mopes until he sees a tractor trailer … and he begins to dream again.
The book, published in 2003 by Hyperion Press, received a Caldecott Honor after its release. In addition, it was an American Library Association Notable Book, a National Council of Teachers of English Notable Book and a Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books Blue Ribbon Book. It and the other pigeon books have been on the New York Times best-seller list.
Willems masterfully captures the essence of the unreasonableness of a child in the persona of the pigeon – and even children can recognize themselves as they whine, cajole, bargain … and sometimes throw temper tantrums.
In the book Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! The pigeon tries everything he can think of to avoid going to bed. It represents a scenario every child has faced. But pigeon appeals with things such as telling the readers he’s not tired. Then he goes on to say that pigeons don’t really require much sleep … it’s daytime in China … and more. The readers, however, see that the pigeon is yawning often … and eventually pigeon falls asleep holding his bunny.
The “stay up late” book was published by Hyperion Press in 2006. It won a National Parenting Publications Award in 2006 and was named one of the top three books for kindergarteners and first graders by Scholastic Books that same year.
Willems, who also drew the illustrations for his pigeon series, has received three Caldecott Awards and two Geisel Medals. Before writing children’s books, he was a writer and animator on Sesame Street, where he won six Emmy Awards. He and his family live in Massachusetts.
The Stories in the Forest program gives parents some quality time with their children and exposes children to some favorite books of local residents. It is an outgrowth of the St. Bernards Women’s Advisory Council’s tremendously successful Kidz Fun Fair.
The Women’s Advisory Council is a group of about 120 area women who have joined together in an advisory role to give input on important healthcare issues impacting women and children. They encourage educational as well as service outreach efforts designed to make Jonesboro a better place to live, work and raise families.