He has attempted to drive a bus, attend school, and even take a spin on a roller coaster, but soon the Pigeon will embark upon his greatest adventure yet. After 20 years since the release of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Mo Willems’s title character is ready to land in the adult humor aisle with the upcoming publication of Be the Bus: The Lost and Profound Wisdom of the Pigeon As Told to Mo Willems from Union Square Kids on April 4, 2023.
This title marks Willems’s first title for adults starring the Pigeon, and coincides with the release of a 20th-anniversary edition of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (Hyperion, Apr. 4). The deal for Be the Bus (for U.S., Canadian, and U.K. rights) was brokered by Marcia Wernick of Wernick & Pratt Agency and Chris Bosco at Stampede Ventures.
Since the Pigeon’s debut with Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, which earned a 2004 Caldecott Honor, the books have sold more than six million copies in North America and been translated into 20 languages. The latest and eighth book in the series, The Pigeon Will Ride the Roller Coaster!, was published in September.
Now shifting gears and writing for adult readers, Willems draws upon the Pigeon’s collective wisdom in Be the Bus. The 80-page title features quotable advice and life tips, such as “surprises happen when you least expect them” and “let me be the first to say that everything has already been said,” and new illustrations. When asked what prompted him to direct his attention toward his adult fans, Willems told PW, “I’ve worked with the Pigeon for 20 years and I’ve never been able to predict what he’ll do next. Case in point, this book.”
Meanwhile, the 20th anniversary edition, aimed at Willems’s core audience of three- to five-year-olds, sports a larger trim size and is packaged with a Pigeon board game. Players aim to be the first to get to the Bus Depot, all the while making certain that Pigeon does not drive the bus.