Mo Willems, I love you

Those of you who have small children should already know Mo. The two-time Caldecott-Honor winner now has nine (?I think) books to his credit, each a gem. The Munchkin loves her some Pigeon and Bunny. To wit:

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (Hyperion, 2003) is Mo's Caldecott Honor debut. The title says it all: this is a brilliantly interactive picture book starring an irrepressible pigeon who reeaaaalllly wants to drive the bus. Won't you let him? Curiously, although Miss Munch knows, loves, and recites this book, she has never let loose with one of those big "NOOOOO!"s that the author and publisher seem to expect from their audience.

The first sequel, The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! (Hyperion, 2004) is a lesser work, but has its moments of brilliance as well. La Munch frequently asserts, "Dat PIGEON hot dog!"

The second sequel, and Mo's latest, is Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! (Hyperion, 2006). Following the format of the other two, the reader sees Pigeon (clutching his own Knuffle Bunny, see below) resisting bedtime with all the force and persuasion of a good little toddler. Replacing Pigeon's standard climactic tantrum with a room-filling yawn is a stroke of genius.

Last but not least in the Mo Hall of Fame is one of last year's Caldecott Honors, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale (Hyperion, 2004). It took the Munchkin a little while to warm up to this one, but once she did, she was hooked. Knuffle Bunny is a slice-of-life tale of one girl, one stuffed bunny, and one ill-fated trip to the laundromat. The language and action is pitch-perfect (find me a better example of "going boneless," I dare you), and the resolution, though predictable, is heart-warming.

A word of caution: These books are not for the shy parent. Mo's background is in animation (he's a former writer for Sesame Street, among others), and one must adopt a certain theatricality to get the most out of these books. But they're worth it.

Mo is also a certified Hot Man of Children's Literature.

Also by Mo:
The Pigeon Loves Things That Go! (Hyperion, 2005, board book)
The Pigeon Has Feelings, Too! (Hyperion, 2005, board book)
Time to Pee! (Hyperion, 2003)
Time to Say Please! (Hyperion, 2005)
Leonardo, the Terrible Monster (Hyperion, 2006)

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