I’m in the middle of state testing; next week we have two days testing, two days of schools, four day weekend deemed “spring break.” I’m trying to figure out something to do with my students for two days that is somewhat fun, somewhat educational. (Yes, I am still open to the idea of watching a movie and that’s that…. ) I’d love to use picture books to have story time for a day, maybe review some literary devices. We’ll see how this works…
I was introduced to Mo Willems by my lovely Children’s Lit professor, who did her very best to make us addicted to his books. It worked. I took Children’s Lit for fun, but not necessarily for the picture books (since I was one of two students who weren’t elementary teachers). Nonetheless, Mo Willems grew to be everyone’s favorite.
Reasons off hand of what makes him awesome, without talking about his books:
- He wrote on Sesame Street. Heck yeah.
- Two of his PICTURE BOOKS are getting the musical treatment.
- He does his own illustrations, with the exception of his more serious City Dog, Country Frog (which is in watercolor by Jon J. Muth).
- He’s on NPR’s All Things Considered as their “radio cartoonist.”
- Via a B&N Meet the Writers interview, the fundamental difference between kids and adults is that kids are shorter. Thus, he’s enjoyable for everyone. (Think Pixar films. This is what you want in a family movie; why not a children’s book?)
- Also… this quote from this particular interview (1:23): “The weird thing about my job is I’m writing books for illiterates…”
- From the same interview, “just because you’re very young, doesn’t mean you don’t have a sense of humor.”
- Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed. It’s all about being yourself. When “yourself” is a naked molerat who’s also a fashion plate, you can’t really go wrong.
- Knuffle Bunny series: EVERYONE knows how this goes. Toddler loses toy, chaos happens. It’s super-cute and (again), everyone can relate to this.
- “She went boneless.”
- And, although you can say it however you wish, Trixie says “K-nuffle Bunny.” (Discovered in Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity.)
- The Pigeon books: As Mo said in one interview, he writes about failure and not being able to get your way. Pigeon never gets his way: he can’t drive the bus, he can’t stay up late, he can’t even star in all the books! (It’s been a while since I’ve read Pigeon books, but they’re pretty cute. Also a musical.)
- The Elephant and Piggy series are kind of told in a comic-book style. My prof loved them because they had color-coded speech bubbles for the two characters. Also, the dialogue was (again) funny. The character illustrations are a hoot.
- Although I have not yet read Cat the Cat series, the fact that all of the characters are named “Cat the Cat,” “Sheep the Sheep,” “Dog the Dog,” etc. makes me happy. Especially since my cat’s name is Cat.(Technically, his name is “Caterwompus”, but that’s the “birth certificate” name. The “you know you’re in trouble” name.)
- City Dog, Country Frog is one that will make you cry. City Dog visits the country and makes a new friend, but then winter comes, and he can’t find his friend Frog. Beautiful watercolors, goes through all the seasons, and it’s a lovely story. Sad, but lovely.
Grade: Okay, I’m trying to figure out a way to incorporate something with picture books in my class sometime, and I’m teaching sixth grade at the moment. Definitely elementary, other than possibly using Naked Mole Rat gets Dressed to discuss dress code for upper grades. Still thinking of a way…
Grade: A. Universal humor for everyone.