Friday, February 27, 2009

Saturday News...

Some cool news coming down the pike:

The Children's Book Council just announced their "Children's Choice" finalists and happily The Pigeon Wants a Puppy! made the cut. It also looks like I'm up for Illustrator of the Year. I've never illustrated a year before*, so that's exciting.

This is a particularly cool award because starting April 1** actual kids will get to vote for their favorite book in various categories (if you think Democracy is messy, try Kid Democracy).

See ye April 1--Vote early, vote often!

Over at IndiBound (the new name for co-operating Independent Booksellers), Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed makes their Spring Kids List. It also clocks in at #13 on their bestseller list. Thanks Indies! Y'know I love ya.

Thanks to you, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed spends it's 7th week on the NY Times Bestseller list at #8

That's not enough for ya?

Stay tuned for some sooper-cool news next week!

* Oh, wait. I have.
** (the Pigeon's Birthday!--he'll be 6)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009


Awesome Pigeon ideas in the old mailbag!

Check 'em out:


Send your fan mail to:

Mo Willems Fan Mail
c/o Christian Trimmer
Hyperion Books for Children and Pigeons
114 5th Ave 14th fl.
New York, NY 10011

Please be patient, it takes a long time for mail to be forwarded!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

You never know…(and news)

One of the cool parts about making books for kids is when educators can take them and turn them into cool classroom fodder.

I love students creating their own Pigeon books, performing Elephant and Piggie skits in class, or using Knuffle-esque photo-collage to make little autobiographical scenes.

And as you know, I love getting them in the mail.

Well the old mailbag had a cool new assignment based on my one book that’s not for the kiddo’s, You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When It Monsoons.

The book documents the drawing-a-day diary that I created while traveling around the world for a year in 1990-91. The book came out 15 years after the trip was taken, so I got to make commentary on what I’d seen, how the world had changed, and who I was during that trip.

It’s the weird step-child in my family of books, and I like it all the more because of that...

Well, a teacher in my old stomping grounds of Brooklyn, NY thought the image a day would be cool for her students. Here are some results (click to enlarge):

Awesome! Why don’t you try it?

And, thanks to you, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed climbs up a notch on the NY Times Bestseller List to #7 for its 6th week on the list.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Brush Off...

Because I've been using a brush for an upcoming project, I find myself using scraps of paper to remove excess ink and test the brush between dips into the ink. The resulting bog becomes a perfect hiding environment for sneaky alligators...

Oh, and thanks to you Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed clocks in at #6 on the Publishers Weekly Bestseller List.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Writing is on the Walls

The cheapest and most fun renovation to our new house was painting the dining room with chalk board paint (available at any hardware store). Now, when guests come over they can sign in, doodle, or complete complex mathematical computations.

It also allows us to spring forward in the dead of winter, as the whole family did this weekend....

We had a big old spring-themed family draw, mixing and matching our styles of doodles to make a fun panorama...

What's so fun is that it can be hard to tell who drew what. Everybody's work intermingled perfectly.

There are also some fun details, such as Trixie's splash of realism in the idyllic setting:

Yup, that's a swarm of mosquitoes!

Above the doorway to the living room, I created a tableau to young love...

And to the side of that, finished the tableau with a more realistic scene of unrequited amour...

You may not have chalk walls (yet), but why not grab a big piece of paper and have a blow-out family draw?

It's fun!

Monday, February 16, 2009

"Now, that's Ranty!"

One of the things that made my cartoon sketch show Sheep in the Big City fun was the 30 second appearances of the Ranting Swede at the end of each episode.

I flatter myself to think that the Ranting Swede’s format was unique in TV cartoon production. We would give actor Kevin Seal a loose idea (“coffee tables”) and let him go off for as long as he could. We’d edit the track and give it to a local animator, always keeping Kevin’s insane “You know what…” openers (my favorite, “You know what shaves my cat in preparation for a veterinary procedure…?”)

Usually when you assign a segment to an animator you “direct the sheets” by marking poses and action for every couple of frames as a guide. For the Ranting Swede they were blank. The animators could do whatever they wanted. The resulting cartoons from a Who’s Who to a Who’s That? of NYC animators varied widely, but always achieved it’s main purpose: to be very weird.

Now it seems that someone has taken it upon him/herself to edit all of the rants together. I’d never seen them all at once and was unprepared for the mind numbing effect they create.

So, then, enjoy the mental nova cane of the Ranting Swede:


For those of you still coherent enough to be interested in the Ranting Swede’s background, it’s weirder than the segments themselves:

One of my first jobs back in 1992 or so was to take a Russian animated anti-drinking propaganda feature based on Treasure Island, rewrite it, and record the track with the new script (all in about a month). It mostly featured characters holding up skulls and bottles of booze, with me changing the lines to “You should drink more and perform in Shakespeare plays!

The experience was, to say the least, odd, but I gained two great things from it. 1) The guys I cast became buddies and became the cast for The Monotony Variety Show, a bi-weekly sketch show I wrote for a small Lower East Side theatre which no one ever saw, but which led me to becoming a writer on Sesame Street. 2) At the last recording session we improvised dialog for a battle sequence and Kevin started ranting in this hilarious faux-Swedish accent. The Ranting Swede was born!

We ended every performance of the Monotony Variety Show with the Ranting Swede, and one night I promised the guys that if I ever got a TV show of my own (at the time I had as much chance of becoming Miss America), it would end with a Ranting Swede.

For the record, I have only met nice Swedes in real life. But, who knows what anger burns beneath the surface?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Thanks bloggers!

Thanks to the cabal of blogging kids’ book fans for not only nominating Elephant and Piggie for a Cybil, but for choosing I Love My Toy! for this year’s award. There’s nothing like passionate fans digging your work. It's greatly appreciated.

Rock on!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's news...

I’ve posted about pal Julianne Moore’s Valentine’s initiative with Save the Children. Hopefully those of you who bought valentines enjoyed them. Now there’s one more chance to help out the fine folks at Save the Children and get your hands on the framed original Elephant and Piggie Valentines drawing by bidding for it on Ebay. Your cash will go directly to domestic programs to help children in poverty.

In other news, your friendly neighborhood Ambassador recommends books, and Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed spends its 5th week on the New York Times Bestseller List at #8. Thanks for that!

Friday, February 13, 2009


To celebrate the 10th anniversary of An Off-Beats Valentines, and to save time, I'm linking back to an old post.

Today celebrates the Saint's day of the patron saint of beekeeping. True.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Off the Charts...

For every book I do, the first step is to make a chart to map my progress and insure proper production flow. This is based on charts we had to make in animation (those charts, particularly for the Off-Beats, could take over a full wall of production manager Barb Nash's studio space).

Digging into my files for a drawing for an exhibit, I ran across the Knuffle Bunny: a cautionary tale chart and thought I'd share it:

(click to enlarge)

Here's one for the top secret project I'm working on now:

(click to enlarge)

As you can see, there's still a lot to do...

Not everyone does this, but I find these charts to be most helpful. They also, in the words of pal Tony DiTerlizzi, confirm that I am insane.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Monday, February 9, 2009

Quick notes...

I had good, yet overwhelming fun at the NY Comic Con this weekend. The crowds were large, the fans fun, and I got to run into a bunch of pals like Charise Harper, Lane Smith and Molly Leach, Tom Tomorrow, the guys at First Second, Top Shelf, MAD Mag, and on and on…

But for me the highlight, pal wise, was getting to meet Diary of a Wimpy Kid’s Jeff Kinney, a sooper-nice dude who’s funny and run-away successful book series was pitched at Comic Con only 3 years ago. Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. Couldn’t have happened to a nastier guy either. Those books are unique.

Here’s Jeff and I singing doo-wop before our gigs:

Oh and thanks to you Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed retains its perch on the New York Times Bestseller List for the 4th week at #8.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


I'm off to NY Comic Con for an appearance on Sunday.

So, in the mean-time, here's a gallery of some recent photos that have come my way...

First, lovely shots from Dave Moore at the St. Louis Library event for the Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed Tour...

Next, did you know that before pal Jeannie Birdsall became a top-notch author, she was an art photographer? You did. Oh, well. Any-hoo, this shot from us clowning around during the recent JJK Video shoot (she can act, too) is the most accurate depiction of how I see myself (EVER!):

Finally, and most importantly, pix of the most awesome costume a proud mom gave me while on tour. Awwww.....

Sunday, February 1, 2009

It’s multi-media Sunday…

Pal Jarrett J. Krosoczkaihbishinsteinkzapleezie recently spoke to a bunch of writers where he screened his latest biographical film (which features cameos by myself, pals Jon Scieszka, Jeannie Birdsall, Tony DiTerlizzi, Tomi DiPaola and more). As always Mr. Ambassador steals the show without resorting to dressing up in a tuxedo. Yup, it’s epic.

Speaking of epic, here’s a recent phone interview with Deconstructing Comics where I talk (and talk and talk) about my works, comix, and snot.