Don't Pigeonhole Me!


Young readers first met the Pigeon, a beleaguered bird desperate for a shot behind the wheel of a bus, in 2003. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! went on to sell millions of copies, receive a Caldecott Honor, and spawn additional picture books, apps, games, and even silly bands.

But did you know the Pigeon was born many years earlier in the pages of a sketchbook?

In Don't Pigeonhole Me! Two Decades of the Mo Willems Sketchbook, readers are ...

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Young readers first met the Pigeon, a beleaguered bird desperate for a shot behind the wheel of a bus, in 2003. Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! went on to sell millions of copies, receive a Caldecott Honor, and spawn additional picture books, apps, games, and even silly bands.

But did you know the Pigeon was born many years earlier in the pages of a sketchbook?

In Don't Pigeonhole Me! Two Decades of the Mo Willems Sketchbook, readers are given a rare glimpse into the mind of the man the New York Times described as "The biggest new talent to emerge thus far in the '00s." Since he was a teenager, Mo has been creating characters and scribbling ideas in the pages of sketchbooks. In the early 1990s, he started self-publishing collections of his drawings, and The Mo Willems Sketchbook was created. What began as a calling card for his work has morphed over the years from a form of therapy, to an opportunity to explore and experiment, to a gift for friends and loved ones. But these sketchbooks have always been (and continue to be) the well from which Mo draws ideas and inspiration.

Featuring a foreword by Eric Carle and an introduction by Mo, this volume includes all twenty sketchbooks from the last two decades. Don't Pigeonhole Me! reveals the author/illustrator at his most truthful, most experimental, most grown-up.

Most Mo.

Want to know where ideas come from? Look inside.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
In this collection of sketches, adult fans of the award-winning Pigeon, KnuffleBunny, and Elephant and Piggie books are treated to a peek inside the mind of one of the most critically acclaimed and best-selling children's book creators of our time. Complied from volumes of The Mo Willems Sketchbook, an annual gift presented to friends, family, and potential clients, many of the drawings predate Willems's success as a picture-book author/illustrator. The early sketchbooks feature single cartoon-style panels and clever visual gags in the manner of the New Yorker. They crack wise about such topics as City Life, The Creative Process, and Couples. Some of the sketchbooks are deeply personal, such as I'm Fine, a darkly comic journey through self-doubt and fear. Later sketchbooks reveal Willems's early experiments with the slightly longer narratives and dynamic page turns that became the springboard for his first picture books. Adults will appreciate many of the grown-ups-only read-alouds such as the hilarious and "intoxicatingly hard reader" Olive Hue Show Mutts. Educators in the fields of children's literature and art will find interest in seeing the genesis of characters like The Pigeon and enjoy this rare glimpse into the often-private world of artist doodles.—Kiera Parrott, Darien Library, CT
Kirkus Reviews
Twenty years of doodles collected in a coffee-table volume, offering a well from which Willems has indeed drawn more than the importunate pigeon starring in many of his seemingly artless, improbably successful children's books. The earlier issues of annual booklets gather witty but conventional New Yorker–style single-panel vignettes of city life and modern romance, one-liners from the therapist's couch or general sight gags ("The grim reaper at happy hour"). Later, the content becomes less mannered as it broadens into extended plot lines in early versions of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (2003) and Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs (2012), experiments in the effective use of page turns and color, a gallery of "Monsters in Underpants" and wordplay in a monologue delivered by a drunken "Belligerent Bunny" ("Olive hue show mutts!"). Though composed throughout with characteristic minimalism (except for a closing section of strip comics), the cartoon illustrations show a stimulating range of experimentation--from scribbles and jagged semiabstracts to urbane tableaux, smudgy rubber-stamp work and balletic, Jules Feiffer–esque figures in "Float." Along with a preface explaining the Sketchbooks' origins, the three-time Caldecott Honor winner and two-time Geisel Medal winner provides introductory remarks on events and influences behind each. Occasional sound-bite commendations from colleagues and friends (Norton Juster: "I wish I couldn't draw the way Mo can't draw") would have been better placed on the flaps or endpapers but do enhance the overall celebratory feeling. Eric Carle provides a foreword. Hilarious to, at worst, mildly amusing glimpses of a comic genius at play. Even the pigeon would agree.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781423144366
  • Publisher: Disney Editions
  • Publication date: 6/18/2013
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 635,124
  • Product dimensions: 9.40 (w) x 11.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Mo Willems

Mo Willems (, a number one New York Times best-selling author and illustrator, has been publishing children's books since 2003. He has received three Caldecott Honors (for Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity); two Theodor Seuss Geisel Honors (for We Are in a Book! and I Broke My Trunk!); and two Theodor Seuss Geisel Medals (for There Is a Bird on Your Head! and Are You Ready to Play Outside?). His first picture book, Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, was inducted into the Indies Choice Picture Book Hall of Fame in 2009. Other favorites include The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? and Leonardo, the Terrible Monster.

While best known for his work in publishing, Mo began his career as a writer and animator on Sesame Street, where he garnered six Emmy Awards. He also created and executive-produced the animated series Sheep in the Big City and served as head writer for Codename: Kids Next Door. Additionally, Mo provided the book and lyrics for Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical, which premiered at the Kennedy Center in May 2010. And his first app, Don't Let the Pigeon Run This App!, was an iTunes Best of the Year in 2011.

See above.

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