What Can Mo Willems NOT Do? (2019 Book Review)

If you don’t know Mo, you don’t know children’s books.

Mo Willems isn’t popular because he does one thing a million times.  He hasn’t made a name for himself doing one style of books or one series of books based on specific characters (although who doesn’t love the Elephant and Piggie books or the Pigeon books?).  Mo is beloved because he is SO talented.  Every year he comes out with new ways to approach children’s literature.  And yet at the same time, he goes back and touches on old favorites.  Then sometimes he takes old favorites and adds something different into the mix like in the Elephant and Piggie Like Reading series.  Then there are those books that stand apart from the rest.  So far, in 2019, Mo has done all of these styles of books in just one year.  And the year isn’t done yet so who knows what might come up next?

Going back to an old favorite, Mo did another Pigeon book – The Pigeon HAS to Go to School.  A great book for kids just starting out in school or for that reluctant child who doesn’t find school all that fun.  Or just fans of Pigeon who is awfully funny in his own way.  The title is clever because it insinuates that Pigeon is being forced to go to school, but through his own series of revelations, Pigeon decides for himself that he HAS to go to school!  It’s clever, fun, and definitely inspirational for kids who may question the necessity of getting an education.

Title: The Pigeon HAS to Go to School!
Author: Mo Willems
Cost: $16.99
Age: 4-7
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Publishing Worldwide
Genre: Early readers book
Release Date: Already available!

Mo didn’t stop there.  He also wrote and illustrated a wonderful book featuring Unlimited Squrrels called Who is the Mystery Reader?  As you can imagine in this beginning reader book, the central plot of the book is all about a squirrel called the Mystery Reader.  But unlike other beginning reader books, this book is interwoven with nonfiction content (including Mo’s own story told from a squirrel’s perspective), some interesting facts about writing, and JOKES!  Not just a funny story, but actual jokes your kids are sure to tell you.  It is a fun and innovative book done in the Mo Willems style.

Title: Who is the Mystery Reader?
Author: Mo Willems
Cost: $12.99
Age: 4-8
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Publishing Worldwide
Genre: Early readers book
Release Date: October 1, 2019

But perhaps is greatest achievement this year is a beautiful book called Because which celebrates the idea that it takes many people to help us get where we are in life.  It is told in such a simple way, children will be able to easily grasp the concept of community while at the same time be enveloped in the pictures created by Amber Ren.  And while the story is fictional, it is also the story of all of our lives.  In true Mo Willems fashion, it is also incredibly innovative.  A modern composer, Hilary Purrington, actually created the piece that is featured in the back of the book to go along with the tale of this young musician whose life was impacted because one evening her uncle caught a cold.  It is a simple, yet heartwarming tale of life and one that will touch both children and adults alike (at least it did this adult).

Title: Because
Author: Mo Willems (writer) & Amber Ren (illustrator)
Cost: $17.99
Age: 3-6 (but really for any Mo Willems fan)
Publisher: Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Publishing Worldwide
Genre: Picture book
Release Date: Already available!

All three of these books are brilliant in their own way.  All three are geared toward different types of readers.  And all three would make an excellent addition to your library.

Thanks to Disney Publishing Worldwide for sharing copies of these books for review.  After reading my first Mo Willems book, I was hooked!  And even though my daughter is now in her teens, I find Mo’s style and brilliance fascinating. 

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