The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems


Suitable for 2 to 5 year old readers and anyone else

Pros: Humor, Opportunities for silliness, Helps overcome fear of baths

Cons: Do you mind if your child walks around saying “Dude”

Pigeon is one dirty bird, just ask the flies who ignored him and chastised him for being dirty.  Mo Willems’ The Pigeon Needs a Bath! demonstrates that this author/illustrator remains at the top of his game even after nine pigeon books, 21 Piggie and Elephant books and too many other miscellaneous children’s books to count. The Caldecott and Geisel Medal winning author/illustrator continues to make us chuckle and helps us share engaging moments with the young children in our lives.


He also encourages children to do what they don’t want to do – like take a bath.


Pigeon doesn’t think he’s dirty. He thinks that’s someone else’s opinion. He argues that baths are unimportant, that clean and dirty are just words, and that life is too short to take a bath. He further explains that his smell, if he did smell, is normal for a pigeon and that some consider it impolite to bath.

These arguments might fuel the arguments of young readers who also dislike baths. As parents, though, we know that a bath isn’t all that distressing and that it just might be fun.  Pigeon finally relents but has a Goldilocks moment at the side of the tub. Again, we laughbathtub-clipart prior to the big splash – literally BIG splash.


I’ve no doubt Mo Willems and Pigeon will influence bath-resistant kiddos with this past-tense conclusion.


The Pigeon Needs a Bath provides everything we’ve come to expect from Willems. He engages parents with moments of silly play as well as simple life lessons. He also grows the vocabularies of two to five year olds. Expect them to say “what a kidder” and it’s “purely coincidental” and “that’s a matter of opinion.” Even more fun, children will have fun exploring the use of the word “dude” – the dude lives once again.


Cher Who?

Me, I’m intrigued by the notation “to Cher who always makes a big splash” in the opening pages. Once again Mo Willems gets high marks for creativity and wise use of an expressive pigeon. This is appropriate for the youngest toddlers to children entering kindergarten. I also see awards in his future for this 2014 book.

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