Look at what came in the mail last week! It’s The Thank You Book, where Gerald and Piggie thank everyone and everything for taking part in their adventures. A fitting end to a stellar series.

Can’t get enough Mo? Check out this fine story on the three-time Caldecott Honor winner’s retrospective at the New York Historical Society:

The Thank You Book, by Mo Willems; Hyperion Books for Young Readers, $9.99, 64 pages, ages 5-8. Available May 3.

(Children’s) BookNotes, March 23, 2016

A classic turns 75, The Pigeon gets a retrospective, and Brightly.com offers bedtime story prompts. Read on, and get your kids to vote in the 9th Annual CBC Children’s Choice Awards!http://www.cbcbooks.org/ccba/

On March 29, Viking will release a 75th-anniversary edition of Robert McCloskey’s classic Make Way for Ducklings.


Mo Willems Exhibit Opens at New-York Historical Society


Bedtime Story Prompts for Parents Who Can’t Think of Any
Stories to


Paris dans mon cœur

How do adults address this weekend’s carnage in Paris? (Do we?) How much information have our youngest ones already heard, and how much of it do they actually understand? Forbes magazine, France 24, and plenty of other outlets are devoting columns to the topic, where the general consensus among psychologists is not to discuss it (or any other such atrocities) with children under age six. Children attending elementary school will likely hear rumors on the playground or teachers discussing it in class, and parents should prepare for a conversation. In light of media over-saturation, parents will find themselves decoding and filtering information, and should avoid projecting their own anxieties and fears. Easier said than done, but providing reassurance is crucial. It is so easy for a child to see traumatizing images without context, and the images coming out of Paris are frightening–places children visit, like soccer stadiums and restaurants, have been turned into scenes of devastation and death. Parents and educators must be willing to “prendre la relève” or take up the burden, of providing strength and love in such uncertain times.

But for the littlest ones, why not spark a lifelong love for this beautiful city and its people by offering them The Story of Diva and Flea, by power-duo Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi (Hyperion Press; $14.99, October 2015). It’s a story about an unexpected friendship, but at it’s core, this is a love song to Paris. Willems realized a lifelong dream of living in the city while writing the book, and DiTerlizzi’s illustrations remind us that the people, places, and creatures of Paris are beautiful, strong, and resilient. Vive Paris. 

I Will Take A Nap! by Mo Willems; Hyperion Books, $9.99, 64 pages, ages 6-8.

Gerald and Piggie are back in their 23rd adventure of hijinks and adventure. This time, Gerald is cranky and wants to nap, but can’t seem to shake Piggie from his mind. Will he ever catch his forty winks, or will Piggie’s presence distract him? Mo Willems’ award winning early reader series has captivated young readers since 2007, and it’s easy to see why; the books are written comic-book style, with color-coded speech bubbles for each character, and there’s plenty of word repetition for children to practice. Where Elephant and Piggie departs from the Dick and Jane model is word choice – snore and cranky are prominent in this book – and there’s plenty of action to keep readers engaged.

While there are many early readers to choose from, there’s no reason to settle for boring or overtly didactic when writers like Willems are crafting great books like those in this series. I Will Take A Nap! is available everywhere today, June 2.

Picture This! An informal discussion with Hervé Tullet and Mo Willems

 MANHATTAN (April 8, 2013) –

On Monday night, a mixed crowd of children, teachers, authors and illustrators attended an event organized by the French Embassy and held at the Books of Wonder children’s bookstore. The evening’s French representative was author-illustrator and Sorcières Prize winner Hervé Tullet, while America’s artist ambassador was three-time Caldecott winner Mo Willems. The men discussed how reading should be an interactive and fun experience for children.


Mo Willems and Hervé Tullet spin yarns at Books of Wonder while Jennifer Brown moderates. (Photo courtesy of Judith Walker at the French Embassy)

This discussion is the first of the Embassy’s Picture This! series. The goal of these events is to bring French and American illustrators together to talk about their work.  Events will take place from April 9th through May 13th throughout Manhattan.(http://frenchculture.org/books/festivals/picture-this) 

Jennifer M. Brown, director of the Center for Children’s Literature at the Bank Street College of Education, moderated the discussion, which touched on topics such as reading as an interactive activity and the role of humor in children’s literature.  The illustrators’ responses were lively and informative. 


Mr. Tullet said that he views his role as a social artist. He envisions children as his audience, but aspires to create an experience for two readers to share. The Game of Light illustrates interaction between reader and book. One participant holds a flashlight to illuminate the cutout images on a wall, while another reads the text, which acts as a catalyst for parents to create their own stories to accompany the shadows.


Mr. Willems compared the experience of reader interaction to the inner workings of a symphony; the book is the score, the adult is the orchestra, and the child is the audience.  The author writes knowing that his books may a child’s best, or sometimes only, friend. To make his books accessible to children, Mr. Willems said he purposefully illustrates in such a way so that a five year old might be inspired to copy his work with success.

The evening concluded with an audience Q & A, then Mr. Tullet inscribed books for people who waited patiently on a line that snaked through the store.