Which New Release Are You (& Your Kids Most Excited About?)

Friday, August 2, 2013

You Are Never Too Young (Or Too Old) For Mo Willems

In the world of kidlet lit there are those who write, there are those who illustrate, there are those who  both write and illustrate and then there is Mo Willems.  I've sometimes heard his style of writing and illustrating called simplistic.  Perhaps it is, but it is also perfect for very young kids who have trouble sitting through longer stories.  It is perfect for those who get lost in overly colorful or busy pages.  This simplicity also makes them fantastic first books for those kiddos just starting down the path to independent reading.  With honesty and humor Mo Willems calls upon a unique cast of characters to tells tales of frustration, cooperation, fear, friendship, family, love and compassion. 

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus is a seriously silly book about a pigeon who is desperate to drive a bus.  It was the first book that Max ever "read" by himself.  By read I of course mean memorized.  After lights out I'd hear him in his room turning the pages, reciting the words & laughing out loud.  Like any good Bookworm Mama I never really had the heart to tell him to stop.  Pigeon is front and center in 7 different hilarious books.  However, as much as I love Pigeon (& his sometimes pal Duckling) it is Knuffle Bunny that truly won my heart.

Knuffle Bunny is the story of a little girl named Trixie who loses her favorite lovey - a green bunny - and simply doesn't have the words to tell her daddy.  As the mother of a child with language delays it has always resonated with me.  Throughout the story Trixie struggles and struggles and struggles to explain to her daddy that Knuffle Bunny is gone.  She tries again and again to convey her frustration and loss but her words only come out as gibberish.  When we were reading I would point to Trixie's face and ask my daughter, "do you ever feel like Trixie?" She would nod or smile or, depending on the day, she'd cover her face and cry.  In the end, Knuffle Bunny is found, the day is saved and first words are uttered.  This is a wonderful book that does more than tell a story.  It offers hope and understanding to anyone struggling to be understood or to understand someone they love.  It is also the triumphant tale of a father who will stop at nothing to help his daughter. 

And then there is Elephant and Piggie.  This series combines the humor you see in the Pigeon books with the heartfelt sincerity of Knuffle Bunny.  Elephant and Piggie are the very best of friends.  Their friendship is the centerpiece to this 20 book series (a new one is due out in October!  Yay!) Mo Willems gently (and hysterically) teaches lessons of understanding, sharing and acceptance.  It is the perfect series for your preschoolers and there is one for nearly any occasion.

The text of these books are quite simple and often repetitive.  However, this is not a bad thing in THe Land of Kids Books.  This makes them ideal for beginning readers as well what I like to call beginning sitters.  Don't be so quick to assume your kids are outgrowing their picture books... sometimes they are really growing into them.  If they are anything like mine they will rediscover old favorites once they begin to read on their own.  You'll hear them late at night when they are supposed to be sleeping reading to themselves with flashlights or they may sneak into their younger siblings rooms to read to them when you aren't looking.  My personal opinion is that you are never to young (or too old) for picture books... especially ones that are written by Mo Willems! 


  1. knuffle bunny has got to be our #1 favorite in our household. love. love. love. it. :)

    1. It's a wonderful book. I think we read it at least a dozen times before my son noticed that one of the characters in the park was wearing a pigeon t-shirt! So clever & sly.