Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App Does Everything Right

Mo Willem’s Pigeon has legions of fans thanks to his best selling series of picture books, which began with Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. The conceit continues as the Pigeon flies to iOS to make his debut on Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App, which is a universal application that will run on iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch.

In his first app appearance the pigeon revisits, rather than rehashes, all the slapstick absurdity that makes him such an enduring character. But the book is not simply a story told in app form, instead, Willems broadens his approach to take advantage of what iOS can offer, maximizing interactivity while integrating sound recording, video, and drawing to the storytelling framework.

 The app’s front screen invites the user to “Create Your Own Story,” and offers users a choice between “Favorite Stories” (which will be blank if you are new to the app) and “Draw the Pigeon” as well as “Boring Stuff,” which houses the app’s help section.


Hint: start with “Draw the Pigeon” — it will be more fun later. This section includes a brief video appearance by Willems, then he walks the reader through drawing the pigeon, complete with traceable figures.  This is also the only place to learn the definition of Mo Willems’ patented “circangle.”


This app gives children the chance to be part author, illustrator, and narrator of a story featuring a favorite storybook character. Tapping the “Create Your Own Story” icon spreads the stack of books into three separate volumes: Egg, Chick, and Big Pigeon. Proceed from Egg to Chick the first time you use the app because each of these sections asks progressively more from the user, until in Big Pigeon, you choose and record your answers to fill in many of the story’s details. When the user plays back a Big Pigeon version of the story his voice is integrated into the narrative along with the Pigeon’s (voiced by Willems).

Once children have played the Egg and Chick versions, most except the very youngest will probably prefer spending time in the Big Pigeon version of the story because it offers kids a chance to control the narration. Children can create and play while using Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App.

Don’t Let the Pigeon Run This App is available to download from the App store for $6.99.

What I liked: It was really fun to think up new things for the pigeon to be forbidden to do. Saving up to six favorite stories for playback later allows kids to share their creations, or revisit them and start laughing all over again.

What I didn’t like: Nothing. The possibilities for what this Pigeon can’t do are limited only by the user’s imagination.

To buy or not to buy: Pigeon fans unite! Prepare to press the download button. You will not be disappointed.

About Emily: Emily is a freelance writer who loves discovering new apps whenever she can pry the iPad away from her children or husband. You can contact her via Twitter: @whatwentwrite