Can you think of the book that your children ask you to read over and over again? As a former teacher and a Mimi, books by Mo Willems have always been one of the go to favorites. Mo Willems, born February 11th, 1968, is best known for his books about characters Pigeon, Trixie and Knuffle Bunny, and Elephant and Piggie. His books have also won several awards, including the Caldecott Honor Award and the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award.
Mo Willems’ books, with their brief stories and fun comic style illustrations, cover topics that children can relate to, such as friendship, patience, sharing, wants and fears, and growing up. Children can relate to Pigeon as he wonders if the teacher at school won’t like pigeons and worries about what the other birds will think of him in “The Pigeon Has to Go to School.” In “We Are in a Book,” children can learn about how books work as they laugh along with Elephant and Piggie. In “I Really Like Slop,” Elephant is brave as he tries a new food with Piggie’s encouragement. Themes of loss and growing up are reflected in the Knuffle Bunny books which show the adventures of Trixie and her stuffed bunny. Children can brainstorm as they think about why Pigeon should or should not be able to stay up late in “Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late,” and predict what would happen if Pigeon is allowed to drive the bus in “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.” It is easy for children to relate to Elephant as he struggles with deciding to share his ice cream with Piggie in “Should I Share My Ice Cream?”
Some fun facts about Mo Willems and his work include:
- HBOMAX recently added “Mo Willems Storytime Shorts,” which are animated versions of some of his most popular titles.
- Three of his books have been turned into musicals-Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical, Elephant & Piggie’s We Are in a Play and Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience.
- Although he is best known as an author and illustrator, Mo started his career as a writer and animator on Sesame Street (winning six Emmy Awards) and later created TV shows for Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network.
- In the Knuffle Bunny books, the character Trixie is named after Mo’s child.
Check out Mo Willem’s website, Pigeon Presents, for fun activities for children and ideas for parents and teachers.