Don't Pigeonhole Me!

Don't Pigeonhole Me!

by Mo Willems
     
 

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

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Overview

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

From the Publisher
With an engaging, conversational style, wisecracking illustrator Willems invites readers into the inner workings of his artistic process as he reflects upon the last twenty years of sketches, scribbles, and doodles. As a starving artist living in New York, Willems began drawing cartoons for a 'zine in 1993, eventually putting his sketches together in a special edition, the first Mo Willems Sketchbook. The single-panel, editorial-like cartoons that make up that early publication and its subsequent iterations are presented here, along with more narratively structured sketches, several of which eventually led to some of Willems' best hits, including Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (BCCB 5/03) and Leonardo, the Terrible Monster (BCCB 11/05). Overall, though, the material here is aimed at an older audience; the tendency toward mischief and naughtiness that threads through so many of Willems' children's book is given free, adult-oriented rein in this particular format and his characteristic cleverness is on display alongside a penchant for dark comedy and existential contemplation (and a drunken bunny). Eric Carle provides a brief, amiable foreword, while somewhat adulatory quotes from various authors, illustrators, and celebrities introduce each chapter. The oversized pages and clean, focused layout keep the viewer's attention on the art, mostly black and white sketches that range from frenetically cartoony to solemnly abstract. While this has potential curricular use in a high school or college art class, its main audience will be interested adults; it would certainly make a fine gift book for those parents who match their children in their enthusiasm for the antics of Elephant and Piggie. KQG—BCCB

In the foreword to this impressive coffee-table-size art book, Eric Carle calls Mo Willems "the master of the doodle." Carle provides a doodle of his own: the iconic hungry caterpillar, waving a heart flag and proclaiming, "Mo Willems rocks!" A compilation of Mo's sketchbooks from the past two decades, this offers a fly-on-the-wall look at where the illustrator's ideas originate. Fun fact: Pigeon, of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, appeared in a sketchbook long before his 2003 debut; he was "born in the corner of a notebook, complaining about how he was better than other doodles I was making." That sounds like Pigeon alright. In addition to Mo's general introduction, he briefly introduces each of the 20 sketchbooks. For instance, Mo tells us that Sketchbook 5, called "I'm Fine," was inspired by William Steig's The Lonely Ones (1970). Other entries include "Lazy Day Doodles," "Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs" (now a picture book), and the hysterical "Olive Hue Show Mutts," in which a drunk, slurring rabbit reminds adults just how hard it is to learn to read. The clean design and pastel background colors echo Mo's picture books, and the volume will delight his numerous fans-his adult fans (but let's not pigeonhole)-from beginning to end. - Ann Kelley—Booklist

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—SLJ

School Library Journal
10/01/2013
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:
06/18/2013
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
694,881
Product dimensions:
9.40(w) x 11.90(h) x 1.30(d)

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