Saturday, January 10, 2009

Get to know Mo.

Do you know Mo? Mo Willems, that is.

He is an amazingly talented award-winning children's author and illustrator. I became familiar with his work five years ago - reluctantly, I might add - after a student brought one his books into my classroom. A book about a rather two dimensional, stick-figure bird, which is entitled Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. And I was convinced (based on the cover and title) that the book would be... well, stupid. As a book lover and future reading specialist, I couldn't waste my time on something that wasn't "quality" literature. But Justin kept coming in with this book, and giggling over it at recess. So one day I picked it up and flipped through it... and laughed right out loud. Since then, I have been on a mission to find everything that Mo has ever written.

The beauty of Mo's books is that he keeps them simple, but at the same time, highly entertaining. I read an article where Mo said he want his pictures to be so simple that a five year old could draw them. The books in his Elephant and Piggie Easy Reader series use a limited amount of words, which makes them perfect for my first graders to practice reading. His "harder" books are better for read-alouds, but still encourage lots of audience participation (which my students do gleefully). And the pictures are priceless. Mo does much of his story-telling through the characters' body language and facial expressions.

Mo is currently on tour promoting his newest book, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed. (Gotta love an author who knows that the word "naked" will cause children to erupt in contagious giggles...) Today I had a chance to see him at a local Barnes and Noble for a reading and signing. He read two books, answered some questions, and then signed books. I was highly impressed - he was as funny and engaging as his books. Unfortunately, flash photography was prohibited, so the pic of him reading came out blurry...

I got two books signed... including the book that got me hooked in the first place:

If you're a teacher (or a mother of young children), I urge you to get your hands on some of Mo's books. You can thank me later.


Mesmerized said...

I'll definitely check his books out at my local bookshop. Do you think they would be good material to teach English as a foreign language?

Anonymous said...

I'm a teacher and let me tell you, the kids are in LOVE with his books!