Committee for Children Blog

Book Review: The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too!

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by Mo Willems
Reading level: Preschool–Grade 2

Author/illustrator/animator Mo Willems is a master of brevity and humor. You won't find a more succinct book about feelings than Willems' The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too! Word for word, you won't find a more entertaining one either, considering the total word count is 85. The pigeon (who also stars in Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!, among others), stubbornly refuses when a bus driver asks him to show his happy face. In a quickly accelerating cascade of emotions that will be familiar to all who know preschoolers, the pigeon progresses from a willful “Never” to a wing-flapping “ANGRY!” to the most dejected looking “SAD” ever before witnessed on a pigeon's face. Just as quickly, though, the mood changes again to “HAPPY, HAPPY, HAAAAAPPPPPPPPYYY!”, resolving finally into an unnamed but obvious disgust when the bird realizes he has been tricked into happiness!

Social and Emotional Lessons

Mo Willems' ability to impart so much passion in such simply-drawn illustrations—of a pigeon, no less, not a creature known for its range of emotions—will be a delight to grownups and preschoolers alike. Here is an excellent opportunity for Second Step educators to talk with their very young charges about feelings and to allow kids to demonstrate their own happy, angry, sad, and disgusted faces. The pigeon uses his entire body as well as his face; students might want to get up and show what a sad face and body look like. Children might also want to tell their classmates what makes them happy or angry: “I feel angry when my block tower falls over.”

One thing we can count on for sure: The pigeon won't leave us guessing what his feelings might be. And Second Step students will soon be able to name and show their emotions, too!

Emilie Coulter
Book Reviewer
Committee for Children