Mo Willems

Mo WillemsJumping. Up. And. Down. With. Excitement.

The one & only Mo Willems is here.

Yes! Here! At My Book Corner.

On Monday 27th October the shortlist for the RCHB was announced. I love this award – voted for entirely by children. It generates such enthusiasm & excitement for discovering new books … I adore that!

The unique, and brilliantly humorous Mo Willems made the shortlist in the ‘Books For Younger Children’ category … (full shortlist at the end of this interview) and did I mention he is HERE. Right. Here.

Here’s my interview with him. You’ll LOVE it ….

That Is Not a Good Idea!Firstly congratulations on being shortlisted for the Red House Children’s Book Award for “That is Not a Good Idea!”. Tell us a bit more about the book …

While the title implies that the book will be an autobiography, it is in fact grappling with a question I think everyone should ask themselves: “When I’m sure that I know what’s going on, do I?”

“That is Not a Good Idea!” has a distinct cinematographic theme, with a particular homage, it seems, to silent movies. How did that come about?

I have always been a huge Buster Keaton fan and enjoyed what he did with the camera as much as how well he performed. As the story started developing, it quickly became obvious that a silent film motif would be required. Also, it seemed like a fun thing to do.

“That is Not a Good Idea!” is a fractured fable, with typical fable characters, such as the callous cunning fox and the angelic gullible goose. But the unexpected ending challenges the the reader’s expectations as to what their roles an the “moral” of the tale might be. What was your aim with this surprising ending?

The aim of a good surprise ending is for it to be a good surprise. As a writer and illustrator I’m only making 49% of the book, the rest is created by the reader as they read it. I tell the story; you make the meaning.

Mo Willems

The baby geese’s contributions invite young readers to join in, and reader participation is often encouraged in your books both thanks to the tone of the text and the artwork. Is this something you are conscious of when you are working on a new book?

An unread book is a broken book. The louder and sillier my work is read, the more fun it is. I want my books to be played as much as I want them to be read. So, yes, everything is quite intentional, but it is my hope that no one will notice the vast amount of work that goes into my books. I take great effort to make them feel sufficiently effortless.

Most of your books, apart from in the Knuffle Bunny series, feature anthropomorphic animals. Is there a particular reason for this choice, and how do you think your audience responds to this?

Animals allow you to conveniently side-step issues of class, location, time period, and race so that you can concentrate on universal philosophic themes like love, jealousy, and wanting to drive a bus.



This is just one part of a hugely excited tour happening right now. Make sure you check out the full schedule right here. There are prizes to be won, and some really interesting interviews.

Mo Willems

Extra Info: That Is NOT a Good Idea! has been shortlisted in the younger children category of the 2015 Red House Children’s Book Award. The Red House Children’s Book Award is the only national children’s book award voted for entirely by children. It is owned and co-ordinated by the Federation of Children’s Book Groups, and sponsored by Red House.


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