Monday, June 10, 2013

Picture Book Review: The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! by Mo Willems


Willems, Mo. 2004. THE PIGEON FINDS A HOT DOG! New York, NY: Hyperion. ISBN: 0786852488

The lovable, yet short-tempered Pigeon from Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! returns in this  follow-up story where he finds a hot dog and is determined to eat it by himself.  His plans are soon foiled however, when an adorable, yet clever little duckling finds his way into the pigeon’s psyche and to the other half of his hot dog.

Willem’s writing is focused towards early readers, and his clever dialogue and hilarious illustrations allows the reader to experience the pigeon’s frustration, yet sympathize for the little duckling.  Young readers can identify with the pigeon because they understand the feeling of not wanting to share. The pigeon’s dialogue with himself: “Finders, keepers, is what I say!” and “It’s MY hot dog, right!?” displays how many of us try to defend our actions even though we know that we are not always right.  On the other hand, readers can also connect with the duckling’s subtle, yet effective skills of manipulation to get what he wants.  His persistence made the pigeon find sharing an easier way of explaining the taste of the hot dog, which was the duckling's goal from the start. Young readers can identify with being on both sides of this situation, and this story will help them realize that as much as they want to keep something for themselves, they know in their hearts that the right thing to do is share, (just like the pigeon should have done from the beginning).  In a different perspective, young readers can also get an illustrative depiction of how their tantrums might look to the observer and may think twice about acting like the pigeon.

The illustrations in this book are simple, yet powerful enough to where they don’t have to be overly detailed.  With no background scenes provided, all your focus is on the two main characters: the pigeon and the duckling.  A variety of matte, neutral colors keep the reader focused on the effective dialogue and display of emotions the pigeon and duckling are portraying through their facial expressions and body language.  Sharp lines and large round eyes give the characters a fun, cartoon look that will appeal especially to the young readers.

This book is great to share with early readers to teach the concept of sharing.

School Library Journal Review: “Willem's deceptively simple cartoon drawings convincingly portray his protagonist's emotional dilemma, from his initial joy to his frustration and struggle over what he wants to do versus what he knows is right.” (

Booklist Review: “Willems uses artistic minimalism (each page shows only the birds and the hot dog, rendered in basic lines) and spare, hilarious dialogue to convey surprisingly realistic emotions.” (

* This book is great in leading discussions about the importance of sharing.

*Collect other books written and illustrated by Mo Willems such as: DON'T LET THE PIGEON RIDE THE BUS!, DON'T LET THE PIGEON STAY UP LATE, WE ARE IN A BOOK, and SHOULD I SHARE MY ICE CREAM?

*Other picture books about sharing:
Brooks, Felicity. TAKE TURNS, MAX AND MILLIE. Ill. Desideria Guicciardini ISBN: 0794530001
Quay, Emma. YUMMY ICE-CREAM. Ill. Anna Walker. ISBN: 1407120670

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