My daughter decided last night that before falling asleep, she wanted to read "all the Mo Willems books." She headed over to the bookshelf (well, one of many bookshelves, but this is the one where most of Mo's books live in our house), and started pulling them down. It took her a couple of trips, fully laden, to get them over to the bed. And then she commanded: "Read!"
We ended up reading three Elephant & Piggie books and two Pigeon books. We didn't get to the three Knuffle Bunny books last night, but they were in the stack, and are much-loved, too. We also have a couple of stand alone titles (That is NOT a Good Idea and Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs), but these don't register for her so much as having been written by Mo. What she LOVES is looking for the Pigeon on the inside back cover of the Elephant & Piggie books. She has a stuffed Pigeon, too. She sees these books as a whole universe of fun.
The other night she was getting cranky around bedtime, as she is wont to do. She protested: "I'm NOT tired." Then, before I could anything she added "And I am NOT the Pigeon." This is because usually when she claims to not be tired we say: "OK, Pigeon." Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late hits the nail on the head better than any other book I can think of.
I guess all of this is a long-winded way for me to say that if you have a preschooler or early elementary schooler in your house, and you have somehow not discovered the works of Mo Willems, you simply MUST remedy this. Your local library should have plenty of Mo's books, and that's a great place to start. Scholastic also has packages sometimes in the Reading Club, giving you access to less expensive paperback versions. But whatever you do, get your hands on some of these fabulous books.
I think the key to the success of all of Willems' various series and standalones lies in his keen understanding of universal child (and parent) behaviors. My daughter nods her head when Elephant and Piggie are crying over Piggie's broken toy, and says: "She's crying because of her toy. He's crying because of her." She just gets the interactions and expressions of the characters instinctively. She clutches her own beloved blanket a little when Trixie loses Knuffle Bunny. She giggles when the Pigeon says "I never get to do ANYTHING" because she knows that she has said something similar mere moments before.
Of course it helps that the books are fun, too! What say you, readers? Do your kids ask for "all of the Mo Willems books", too?
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