Mo Williams, My Hero

-posted by Meghan

We love love love love Mo Willems at our house.  The publication of a new Elephant and Piggie book is practically a holiday here, and Knuffle Bunny holds a special place in all of our hearts.  And who can forget pigeon???  So I was pretty excited to see my local paper (The L.A. Times) do a profile piece on him, talking about his new book.  And I was really, really excited to read the interview and see that he’s not only a fabulous writer and illustrator, he’s a fabulous person who seems to have personal beliefs about kids and reading that line right up with my own.  And since I find that too often heroes end up having clay feet (or are Republicans), it made me smile to know that someone who writes such wonderful things is also a wonderful and brilliant person.

His new book is a re-telling of Goldilocks, called Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs We haven’t gotten it yet, but the reviews are pretty darn good, and we’re all looking forward to reading it.  We are all pretty big fans of different takes of classic tales!  But one of the things we can’t wait for is the little inside jokes that Willems always puts in his books – whether it’s find pigeon in the Piggie and Elephant endpapers, or spying Leonardo (the Terrible Monster) as one of Trixie’s toys – there are subtle winks at his other characters that the kids love.  And according to Willems, there is more of that in this book, and it’s by design:

L.A. Times: And then there are the endpapers offering dozens of other Goldilocks spoof ideas, like “Goldilocks and Three Mile Island” — all of them crossed out.

Mo Willems:  I’m thrilled about the prospect of kids making their own Goldilocks books. That’s part of my philosophy: Books shouldn’t just be read, they should be played, so the endpapers are an opportunity to play. Books are not broccoli. They aren’t written in stone. If you want to mess around with a book, it’s not this temple. It’s a working thing for your own creativity.

I love that!  Books should be “played”, not just “read”.  I love that he hopes kids go off and make their own books.  That’s what we spent the summer doing, and that a very famous and beloved author is writing to inspire writing (and drawing and silliness and creativity) just plain old makes me happy.

Other things to be happy about?  That there’s a new Elephant and Piggie book coming out in October!  (Let’s Go for a Drive!)  And if you would like to hear more in his own words, Willems is one of the 21 illustrators profiled in Show Me a Story: Why Picture Books Matter, which is enlightening and entertaining!

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