105 Ways to Give a Book

Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App!

Those who follow this blog know that I have a longtime relationship with Mo Willems... assuming that you interpret “relationship” to allow for a certain stalker-like quality. So I was excited to hear that he had created an app for his Pigeon character, and was happy to check it out for the blog readership. It’s also a MotherReader milestone — not only my first review of an app, but my first app altogether.

My virgin state allowed me to give an interesting perspective, in that I can approach the app with the same technical awareness as that of a child. Honestly, probably less than that of most tech-savy kids today. But it also means that you may need to excuse my less-than-perfect terminology. For instance, do I say that the app begins? (Yeah, I’ll go with it.)

When the app begins, the user is given the choices of “Create Your Own Story,” “Draw the Pigeon,” or “Boring Stuff.” I first selected “Boring Stuff,” figuring it might include the instructions that a novice like me might need — which it did indeed. Once I was suitably informed, I turned to the drawing option, which was introduced by Mo Willems himself, who told me, “You and I are going to do something very cool...”

Dude! We’re going to grab some Jack Daniels, hitchhike to Texas, and pants Rick Perry!!???

Turns out that we were going to draw the Pigeon together, which I suppose is also cool. The instructions were clear and made memorable by his personalizing touch, like explaining that the Pigeon’s beak is drawn by making an M for “Mo” or W for “Willems.” Making a respectable-looking drawing on the iPhone was not easy, though kids probably won’t mind (and it might be easier on the larger iPad). The resulting picture can be saved to use in the stories. (There’s also an option for drawing freely on the screen.)

Moving on to the stories, I was presented with three ways to proceed. Egg will start a story based on some interwoven elements randomly selected — just shake the Pigeon (that is, shake the iPhone) and you’re off and running. Chick gives the reader a series of choices between three things that will be incorporated into the story. So the reader will be asked to choose a food or a game or a character or a title for the book, all of which will be woven together. There were some standout choices that had humor built in, like the vegetarian chile con carne. (See, it’s funny because con carne means “with meat”!) There were several choices of title, from a standard “Don’t Let the Pigeon Rule the World” to a silly “Don’t Let the Pigeon Wear Purple Underwear.” It wasn’t clear how many options there were in total, though three were presented each time.

There is a Mad Libs element to it all, as some phrases fit into the storyline with more ease than others. When the Pigeon talks about putting you in a room full of smelly socks, it makes sense. A room full of armpits is a little more surreal. But generally, it pretty much works.

But the best option for play and humor is Big Pigeon, where the reader can record the answer to any of the incorporated elements, and the pigeon will say them in the context of the story. This is where TeenReader and I had a blast. After trying it out once, and finding that the Pigeon attributed the change in his “voice” to needing a throat lozenge, Teen had to name the next story Don’t Let the Pigeon Have a Throat Lozenge. (See, it’s funny because the pigeon ends with the very thing we told him not to do!) And we just got sillier after that, topping out with a political tale, Don’t Let the Pigeon Pants Rick Perry, where the pigeon promised us a truckload of tequila, offered to play Occupy Wall Street with us, and informed us that Herman Cain would let him do it.

We had a lot of fun with the game — with nary a kid around us — so it certainly has promise for its target audience of actual children. Personally, I’m not crazy about shaking the device to start the story, as whenever I see a young child shaking an iPhone I get very nervous. I’d also like to see more in the app. More choices of fill-in elements, and more variations in the way the whole story comes together. But I don’t know apps, so maybe I’m dreaming a little big here. At $6.99 it also seemed a bit pricey compared to other book apps, but I do admit that I tend toward the stingy and have just the vaguest notion of what a reasonable price point might be for this sort of app. (A free copy was provided to me for review.)

Overall the Pigeon app is a lot of fun, and can keep the adults tossing out new titles long after the app play is done, from TeenReader’s woeful Don’t Let the Pigeon Take Precalculus to the existential Don’t Let the Pigeon Die Alone.

Now it’s your turn. What fun titles — particularly adult but not “adult” — would you like the Pigeon to try? Put them in the comments! TeenReader and I will pick our funniest favorite in a completely subjective way and give the winner a free copy of the app. The contest will end at 8:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, November 17th, with the winner announced the next day. Have fun!

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Natalia Ortega-Brown said...

Don't Let the Pigeon Dance with the Stars!
Don't Let the Pigeon Write My Tax Refund!
Don't Let the Pigeon Blog!
Don't Let the Pigeon Drink Coffee!

Gary Masskin said...

Don't let the pigeon anywhere near the oval office

Gary Masskin said...

Don't let the pigeon into rehab

Don't let the pigeon host a talk show

Gary Masskin said...

don't let the pigeon host high tea for the queen

don't let the pigeon cook with Gordon Ramsay

don't let the pigeon fly to Mars

Gary Masskin said...

Don't let the pigeon raise your kid

Ami said...

Don't let the pigeon write a book.

Don't let the pigeon drive a forklift.

Don't let the pigeon become a Ghostbuster.

Don't let the pigeon become one of the undead.

EM said...

(Because Pam made me, though I already own the app): Don't Let the Pigeon Raise the Dead!

Vivian Mahoney said...

Don't Let the Pigeon Eat Your Lunch!
Don't Let the Pigeon Flip the Bird!
Don't Let the Pigeon Fly Over Your Head!

Joanna Freeman said...

Don't Let the Pigeon Use the Microwave!
Don't Let the Pigeon Learn the Bagpipes!
Don't Let the Pigeon Play Grand Theft Auto: Vice City!

Unknown said...

Don't let the Pigeon Marry a Kardashian!

hmm, that one might be a bit too adult for this contest - LOL

We could have the Pigeon mix it up with another book character -

Don't Let the Pigeon make the school lunch (The Lunch Lady could co-star in this book)

Don't Let the Pigeon Take Bear's Hat (Bear from I want my Hat Back could costar)

Jilly said...

I'm not exactly sure what's wrong with my brain that the first thing that came to my mind was:

Don't Let the Pigeon Huff Glue

but that's probably too adult for this contest (but hilarious). So instead:

Don't Let the Pigeon Give Root Canals
Don't Let the Pigeon Play With Scissors
Don't Let the Pigeon Plan a Roadtrip
Don't Let the Pigeon Have a Party

Brooklyn said...

Don't let the Pigeon Occupy Mo Willems

The Pigeon wants to be a congressman

Don't eat the Pigeon for Thanksgiving

Anonymous said...

I don't have any new ideas, but "Don't Let the Pigeon Die Alone" made me laugh HARD. Thanks for that.

KRusso said...

"May the odds be ever in Pegion's Favor"
The Hungry Pegion Games
Don't let the Pegion go to Penn State
Don't let the Pegion plan your wedding
Don't let the Pegion out on Black Friday
Don't let the Pegion go on Spring Break
Don't let the Pegion go to Vagas

web said...

Since the Pigeon has obviously reached celebrity status: Don't Let the Pigeon Write a Children's Book!

Unknown said...

Um, the review that I am going to post next Electronic Thursday might be titled, "Don't Let the Pigeon Charge Seven Bucks for a Thin App."

But I'm on the fence about that - it's definitely a fun app for grownups. I love it when the pigeon tries to bribe me with a truckfull of Oxy-Contin!

TheArcticSea said...

Don't let the pigeon steal my boyfriend!
Don't let the pigeon accumulate massive student loans!
Don't let the pigeon wear sensible winter shoes!

MotherReader said...

Great titles, everyone! I'll be back with a winner tomorrow!

And YNL, I feel like I'd happily pay about $4 for it, but I just don't have enough app experience to have real comparisons.