The Pigeon Needs a Bath!

By Mo Willems; Mo Willems (Illustrator)
(Disney-Hyperion, Hardcover, 9781423190875, 40pp.)

Publication Date: April 1, 2014

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The Pigeon really needs a bath! Except, the Pigeon's not so sure about that. Besides, he took a bath last month! Maybe. It's going to take some serious convincing to try and get the Pigeon to take the plunge.

About the Author

Mo Willems (, a number one New York Times best-selling author and illustrator, has been awarded a Caldecott Honor on three occasions (for Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity). Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! was also an inaugural inductee into the Indies Choice Picture Book Hall of Fame. And his celebrated Elephant & Piggie early-reader series has been awarded the Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal on two occasions (for There Is a Bird on Your Head! and Are You Ready to Play Outside?) as well as three Honors (for We Are in a Book!, I Broke My Trunk!, and Let's Go for a Drive!). Other favorites include Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed and City Dog, Country Frog, illustrated by Jon J Muth. Mo lives in Massachusetts with his family.

See above.

Praise For The Pigeon Needs a Bath!

The star of seven previous picture books, beginning with Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (rev. 7/03), the Pigeon needs little introduction but he does need a bath. He feels differently-"I took one last month!"-and, true to form, he's not giving in without a fight. Willems lets the Pigeon plead his case to young listeners, who are probably familiar with the I'm-not-taking-a-bath routine but here will take pleasure in being on the other side. The melodramatic Pigeon cycles through a range of reactions to the situation: rationalization, accusation ("When was the last time YOU had a bath?!"), denial ("What smell?"), and, finally, grudging acquiescence ("If it means soooooooooooooo much to you "). The crisply designed pages put the focus on the expressively drawn main character and the speech bubble text. The bubbles themselves help convey tone: rounded shapes signal less intense discourse, and sharp, jagged edges make clear the intensity is spiking. When the Pigeon finally concedes defeat, it takes a double-page, twenty-nine-panel progression of excuses-"The water is too hot. Too cold. Too lukewarm. Too hot. Too wet!"- to get him into the bath. The final two spreads will resonate with parents who've had to cajole their own dirty birds into the tub, only to have to expend the same energy getting them back out. For kids, though, it's just good, clean fun. kitty flynn—Horn Book

Somewhere between aspirations of locomotion, pining for a puppy, and scrambling to finish an activity book, the Pigeon got pretty dirty. Don't tell him that, though. In enduring Willems style, the Pigeon invites reader participation through questions, provocations, and wild gesticulations. With Pigeon evidently besmeared with soot, it's a classic case of denial: " Clean.' Dirty,' " remarks the Pigeon while making air quotes. "They're just words, right?" He then points the finger (or wing) at the accuser: "Maybe you need a bath! YEAH! When was the last time YOU had a bath?! Oh. That was pretty recently." After nervously smelling himself and discovering that even the flies hovering around him can't stand how stinky he is ("Take a bath, dude!" says one in retreat), the Pigeon finally relents. At the edge of the bathtub, though, he goes through his share of Goldilocks moments, which are presented in nearly 30 tiny sequential panels: "The water is too hot. Too cold. Too deep. Not deep enough." The Pigeon's cockeyed defiance and Willems's impeccable comedic timing are as fun and frisky as ever. Ages 3 5.—PW

THE DUCKLING GETS A COOKIE!? "Just as enjoyable as a read-aloud to a group or as a one-on-one lapsit, it's a pleasure to see Willems at the top of his game, and The Pigeon suitably humbled."—Kirkus (starred review)

*"Brilliantly simple...­hilarious."The Horn Book (starred review)

*"Readers of all ages won't be able to resist miming the sly conversation in this satisfying sequel."
-A Publishers Weekly Editors Pick
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

*"Children will be charmed by this bedtime treat."—School Library Journal (starred review)

2009 Children's Choice Book Award for "Kindergarten to Second Grade Book of the Year"

*"Willems's hilariously expressive illustrations and engaging text are cinematic in their interplay."—School Library Journal (starred review)

The pigeon is back, and he is filthy! Readers haven't seen the pigeon for a couple of years, not since The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? (2012), and apparently he hasn't bathed in all that time. Per the usual routine, the bus driver (clad in shower cap and bathrobe) opens the story by asking readers to help convince the pigeon to take a bath. Though he's covered in grime, the obstreperous bird predictably resists. He glares at readers and suggests that maybe they need baths. With the turn of the page, Willems anticipates readers' energetic denials: The pigeon demands, "YEAH! When was the last time YOU had a bath?!" Another beat allows children to supply the answer. "Oh." A trio of flies that find him repulsive ("P.U.!") convinces him it's time. One spread with 29 separate panels depicts the pigeon adjusting the bath ("Too wet! Too cold. Too reflective") before the page turn reveals him jumping in with a spread-filling "SPLASH!" Readers accustomed to the pigeon formula will note that here the story breaks from its normal rhythms; instead of throwing a tantrum, the pigeon discovers what readers already know: "This is FUN!" All the elements are in place, including page backgrounds that modulate from dirty browns to fresh, clean colors and endpapers that bookend the story (including a very funny turnabout for the duckling, here a rubber bath toy). Willems' formula is still a winner. (Picture book. 3-6)—Kirkus

Throughout all of his previous adventures, the Pigeon has shown a remarkable ability to keep his blue feathers pristine and unsullied. Not so here: the Pigeon appears on the cover smudged with dark brown stains of an unspecified origin (now there's a pre-reading question in the making-how did our friend get so dirty?-a question answered in the endpapers, of course). The bus driver, wearing Knuffle Bunny slippers and obviously prepped for a bath of his own, solicits the help of the audience to convince the reluctant pigeon to bathe, and it's game on. Deploying his formidable skills of argumentation, the pigeon offers up a number of reasons why he should not have to take a bath, but when even the flies buzzing around him are put off by his stench, he gives in. After getting the water juuuuuust right (oh, those endless delaying tactics all too familiar to the parent of the bath-averse!), he realizes that he loves taking a bath, especially when his friend, the duckling, stays close by. The comic pleasures of hyperbole abound here as they have in previous Pigeon plots; the bird's rhetorical inventiveness seems to know no limit (in fact, the vocabulary here is somewhat more advanced than in previous Pigeon titles). The familiar creamy-smooth backgrounds impart a simple reinforcement of the dirt motif by being more earthy than usual, while the smears of dirt on our hero have a textured, uneven quality that unerringly evokes a more visceral, lip-curling eeeuw; close viewers will surely find a favorite panel. If only it came in a waterproof edition . . . KC—BCCB

K-Gr 2 Persuasive Pigeon is back. He doesn't feel that he really needs a bath-after all, it's a "matter of opinion." "Clean" and "dirty" are "just words, right?" With a polished technique that logically approaches the problem, Pigeon speaks with a child's voice as he rationalizes his decision while forcefully questioning those who might even suggest that his personal hygiene and the flies buzzing around are not just "coincidental." The water might be "too hot not deep enough too cold or too wet," but it only takes a mere 30 tiny frames and a dramatic large-font spread before Pigeon grandly displays the myriad possibilities for a happy bird in the bath. Willems's dirt-smudged pigeon is at once clever, garrulous, energetic, and just slightly excitable. Through simple flat-line illustrations, this bird's expressions and attitude are easy to discern. Pigeon fans will not want to miss this book, a "must add" to all libraries, for any reader appreciating the perfect art of persuasion. Mary Elam, Learning Media Services, Plano ISD, TX—SLJ

Everyone's favorite contentious misanthrope is back with a grubby vengeance. Our story begins as a hirsute human in bathrobe and shower cap implores our help: the pigeon needs a bath. The pigeon disagrees and begins his familiar pattern of resisting, stalling, and excusing, but even the flies that surround him can't bear the filth. Eventually, he is forced to submit, and, after 28 little panels (and one medium-size one) in which he fusses over the tub and its myriad inadequacies, he relents and takes the plunge. And-surprise, surprise-he likes it. "TEN HOURS LATER," the pigeon is a convert to baths. The details fans have come to expect are all present, from the simple, expressive drawings on blank grounds (though the customary pastel backdrops have been replaced by a variety of muddy browns and greys) to the before-and-after endpapers, complete with a rubber-ducky Easter egg. Pigeon's many followers will be plenty happy with this latest offering, while parents of reluctant bathers will welcome its surreptitious endorsement. - Thom Barthelmess—Booklist Online

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