Tag Archives: Mo Willems

What the Pigeon Wants



In my opinion, the Pigeon series by Mo Willems is the literary equivalent of a Hollywood triple threat – he can act, dance, and sing.  He does all of these things to get what he wants – ahem, NEEDS! The Pigeon provides great examples of persuasion techniques (yes, more than one, just ask any fifth grader), creativity, economic principles (needs/wants), and powerful illustrations.

This year, my class has truly fallen in love with this author.  In the media center they did an author study and in our classroom we continue to revisit Willems’ stories when the mood strikes us.  The week leading to Spring Break put us in one of those moods.  We wanted to hear the Pigeon books again.  When I read these books, the Pigeon has the voice of a very stereotypical 1940’s gangster.  I try to pattern my voice after a media specialist friend (Sharon Mitchell), but hers is truly better than mine. Anyhow – the pigeon pleads, begs, and yes – stomps his feet with my attempt at a voice.  We have fun with these books.  Students respond back with NO! and other answers to his persuasive questions.  Even my fifth graders in past years would respond to the persistent guy.

The Pigeon helped us discuss needs and wants this go round.  We read Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late, and The Pigeon Wants a Puppy. We discussed the difference between needs and wants and created a class T chart.  In the students’ schedule for the day, their word work option was to complete a Pic Collage using the words need and want.


During her writing rotation, Emma chose to create her own version of The Pigeon Wants a Puppy, The Pigeon Wants a Kitten.  She used the books to model her drawings as well as the pattern of her sentences.  We talked extensively about using the books as models – not copying.  The words in the books belonged to who?  Mo Willems.  And the words on her paper belonged to who?  Emma.  She indeed did some creative editing and the end product was quite cute.


So – when searching for a mentor text that is worth its weight, and in my case the cost of multiple copies – consider The Pigeon series.  He’ll be your best friend!


Ideas span grade levels:

  • Persuasive techniques – does the Pigeon beg/whine/wear down, plead, negotiate, bargain, give an ultimatum to get his way? Also compare with techniques used in the Click, Clack, Moo et al series by Doreen Cronin , I Wanna Iguana by Karen Kaufman Orloffand Earrings by Judith Viorst.
  •  Use of illustrations and how Mo Willems shows feelings
  • How illustrators use the technique of hiding characters from other books ( a la Pixar/Disney) – Knuffle Bunny, Elephant, Piggie, Edwina, and Leonardo find their way into the Pigeon books.
  • Needs versus wants – also use The Pigeon Needs a Bath
  • Voice – characters shine through when saying few words

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Filed under Literacy, Mentor Text, Read Alouds, Reading Workshop, Writing Workshop

Just Five More Minutes!


Mentally – I just had to drag myself kicking and screaming out of Barnes and Noble. I mean, full on terrible two’s tantrum of not wanting to go, please-don’t-make-me-leave-the-train-table fit pitching (this was a common occurrence when I worked at B&N for four years).

I love books.  If you have read even one of my blogs, I think you know that right away.  imagesa-reader-lives-a-thousand-livesMy love for books and reading should come across everyday in my classroom – well at least I hope it does.

Today, I went in to Barnes and Noble to distract myself from other things.  I love browsing the picture books and making my wish lists.  I look for books I needed this year but didn’t have, books I knew I wanted to check out, and books I had no idea I even wanted.

These are some of the gems I found today (titles linked to B&N website):

by Daniel J. Mahoney, Illustrations by Jef Kaminsky
We teach a monster unit every year, so I was automatically drawn to this book by the cover alone.  When I started to read, I wasn’t disappointed.  Patrick is very worried about not being scary enough for the first day of Monstergarten.  His friend, Kevin, offers to help him polish his scare tactics.  This book would be a great read aloud, component of my monster unit, or mentor text for compare/contrast using Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems.

20130630-180849.jpgDinosaurs Love Underpants
by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort
We also teach a dinosaur unit.  I like to break up the nonfiction with some fun fiction read alouds.  Right away, I knew from the title that my kindergarteners will love this book.  What kid doesn’t giggle uncontrollably when you talk about underwear? According to this adorable book, underwear were invented because the cavemen were tired of running around naked and dinosaurs are now extinct because of an underpants war.  The illustrations are colorful, dinosaurs scientifically correct, and text is humorous.  It is going to be a great addition to my dinosaur collection!

20130630-180906.jpgThe Day the Crayons Quit
by Drew Daywalt, Illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
I am very particular about crayons.  Apparently, crayons can be particular too.  Duncan’s crayons leave him their “walking papers” one day to air their grievances and he must figure out a way to make them happy and get them back to making his world colorful again.  I found the illustrations to be charming and the use of letter writing appealing.  This would make a great mentor text for point of view, letter writing, and persuasive texts.  I’m thinking it could also go well with The Crayon Box that Talked by Shane Derolf.  Keep your crayons happy and equally loved!

20130630-180856.jpgIsabella, Star of the Story
by Jennifer Fosberry, Illustrated by Mike Litwin
By far – my favorite find of the day.  My attention was grabbed by the cover alone and next came my heart within the first few pages.  Isabella’s parents are taking her to the library.  As she goes running in to the library her father says “Isabella, slow down”. She responds with, “My name is not Isabella.  I am Peter Pan”.  And I became a fan, right there on page 3.  Isabella searches for the right book and morphs from one classic character to the next.  This book is a great mentor text when talking about imagination and how we use other stories to help us write our own.  It could easily be paired with Not a Box or Not a Stick by Antoinette Portis. Next best thing about this book – it is the third book all featuring Isabella.  I may have found a new favorite author!

So… If you do not have an educator card with Barnes and Noble, please get one.  You will receive 20% off in store and online.


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Filed under Literacy, Mentor Text, Uncategorized, Writing Workshop