Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Art and Whimsy of Mo Willems

My best friend just turned 40. We celebrated in New York City with our husbands, comfortable shoes, and an itinerary that wouldn't quit. One day, as we were heading from a movie tour of Central Park to the American Museum of Natural History, we happened to see banners for a Mo Willems exhibit outside a smaller building called the New-York Historical Society Museum & Library. Um, two teachers in NYC with a Mo Willems exhibit?! Yes, please. Our husbands sat at the museum bar. It was a win-win.

You can't quite see this Mo Willems quote, but it says, "All of my characters are thoroughly neurotic, and have very deep emotional lives." If I wasn't sold on these books before, surely I am now Mo's biggest fan, even if it is only because I am thoroughly neurotic and have a very deep emotional life. I mean, I'm passionate. Well, I cry a lot. I am emotionally present. Whatever. It's fine.

In addition to fun character cut-outs, explanations of plots and series, and getting to hear Mo's voice narrate the entire adventure, we got to see samples of his pre-writing process. He sketches out designs, plans dialogue, and explains how he changes the text on the page to reflect the emotion of the particular character.

When you enter the exhibit, you get a little remote that corresponds to bus stops along the way. You type your stop number into the phone and you get to hear Mo explain details of his creative process. This was the only hour of the trip that I wished my kids were with me. Kacee and I were like kids in a candy store, but we felt a tiny bit strange on our double date. We kept explaining to everyone that we were teachers as we took thousands of pictures of animated elephants, pigeons, and pigs. 

My niece lives in New York, and when she was first adopted I sent her Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems because it is hysterical and set in Brooklyn, New York. It was so fun to be able to finally experience this setting since it was my first time in this cool city. Of course, we had to pose with Knuffle Bunny. #thisis40

Happy birthday to my dear friend, Kacee! We have been teaching together for 18 years and it was such a fun, unexpected treat that we got to celebrate our love for a cool city, a favorite author, and each other, all at the same time! I heart NYC! 

What are your top two children's authors? I am always looking for new people to follow!


Kacee Lambright said...

Love your post and our entire trip! Finding the Mo Willems exhibit was just icing on the Magnolia Bakery cupcake!
Thanks again for being a part of #thisis40! ❤️ Kacee