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Inside the illustrator: Mo Willems

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Jasmine Adams

on 18 March 2014

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Transcript of Inside the illustrator: Mo Willems

Elephant and Piggie Books
Leonardo the Terrible Monster
Knuffle Bunny:
A case of mistaken identity
Knuffle Bunny:
A Cautionary Tale
About the Author:
Mo Williams-
Mo Williams is a New York Times #1 best-selling author and illustrator who started his career on Sesame Street, where he garnered six Emmy Awards for his writing.

He has been awarded a Caldecott Honor on three occasions
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity
Inside the Illustrator: Mo Willems
Don't Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus!
Created By:
Pricilla Stevens
Jasmine Adams
The difference between adults
and children is that they're shorter- not dumber.
- Mo Willems-
A great element in all of Willem’s picture books is the searching for the hidden Pigeon. Pigeon has an attitude. This crafty pigeon appears in every book he has illustrated!
Mo William believes writers cannot describe how they want their audience to react.

Knuffle Bunny are often described as cartoons on top of photographs. But, when speaking in 2010 at a Children's Book Guild in Washington DC he mentions that the photographs are of romantic Park Slope, Brooklyn and they are still illustrations -- he has just manipulated them to better represent the emotional truth.
Mo Willems was inspired to create Early Readers in addition to your picture books after he heard a few authors say, “Picture Books are hard, but Early Readers are harder”
In his illustrations Willems uses a simpler art style in the Elephant & Piggie books because he believes that the simpler the drawing, the more expressive it can be. The idea is to focus on the words and the body language of the characters. Everything else is superfluous.
Mo Willems' uses format, text size, and sentence structure to manipulate the audience. The book is the largest size he was allowed to make and the boy Leonardo is incredibly small, though is never referred to as small.
He also controlled how the book is read aloud: at first all the sentences are the same, getting you into a rhythm. Then the amount of words on a page increases. It reads a little bit faster. The words increase some more. It reads even faster. Then comes the page that just says "Sam" and automatically, it reads slower than any other word in the book.
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!

Design Choices- element of design of color is used in the backgrounds of this book.
Solid colors create a variety in unity and act as a giant mood ring explaining what the Pigeon is feeling.
The background serves as a color chart and rhythm to the story.
His Elephant & Piggie early-reader series received the Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal in 2008 and 2009.
Mo Willems' innovative illustrations combine background photographs with characters made in the style of cartoon sketches. This makes the background seem less relevant than the characters, who POP out of the page!
In addition to illustrations for every page of text, contemporary picture books have other features and conventions that have evolved to add to the richness of the form. This includes interplay of pictures, text, and medium.

Willems creates the illustrations using computer manipulated background photographs together with characters made in the style of hand drawn cartoon sketches. This really makes the characters stand out.
Simple text and simple characters to bring out a complex message about the importance of friendship and individuality.
Full transcript