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Showing posts with label Mo WIllems. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mo WIllems. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Meeting Mo Willems

In February Literacy Launchpad did an author study on Mo Willems. So how serendipitous that my local independent bookseller, Parnassus Books, was hosting an event with him today in promotion of his new book The Duckling Gets A Cookie!?. Did you know today was the book's official release date? Or as Mo refers to it, "The first day you can legally read it!"

(See Parnassus Books get the Colbert Bump!)
I only found out about the event last night, and spent this morning emailing the parents of my students in hopes that some of them might be able to make it to the event as well. At lunch, my kiddos (and one of their friends) made some Mo-inspired art (Literacy Launchpad projects from February) to bestow upon the author when we met him.

We made it to the event on time, bought a copy of The Duckling Gets A Cookie!? to get signed, and even got pretty good seats.

Mo came out and wanted to get the photo-taking out of the way so we could all spend our time "experiencing the event, instead of documenting it." Love that! So he did a bunch of goofy poses for us all. Us moms got our photos. The kids got some giggles. He even did a booty-shot pose for us (Which I missed with my camera, darn!).

Mo was very funny and extremely entertaining. He read us Listen to My Trumpet, which he explained is an "easy reader," but a "hard writer." And he of course also read us The Duckling Gets A Cookie!?.

Both books were big hits with the crowd.

Mo also took questions. Did you know...

  • Every night when Mo's family sits down together for dinner, they put a big sheet of paper down the middle of the table and they all draw during the meal. "Elephant Gerald" came into being as a dinner doodle originally. "Piggie" followed shortly after.
  • Mo used to be a writer for Sesame Street. Do you know what "Elmo" means in Spanish? It means "the Mo!" TeeHee!
  • Mo gets all his ideas from Belize, because they have to be "belizable."
Mo's newest book is excellent! Laugh out loud funny (but I'm sure it helped that Mo was reading it to us). I'm really glad that all three of my kids were able to be there for the event. My older ones were talking with their friend that had come along, after we got home, and I overheard them saying that they thought the event was going to be "babyish", but that it was actually "really good!"

Check out this trailer for The Duckling Gets A Cookie!?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Preschoolers as Authors and Illustrators

We finished our Mo Willems author study this week. I was sad to see it come to an end, because we've had so much fun giggling over all his hilarious tales!

It's always neat to focus on one author with preschoolers and show them how so many different ideas can come from one person. I think the concept of author - writer - can be lost on little readers. We gloss over it. But I have found that even preschoolers can develop a preference for certain authors when given the opportunity to become familiar with various writing and illustrating styles.

We watched this little video from Mo Willems a couple weeks ago in class. I love how he encourages kids to write at the very end. My students really perked up at that part!

This last week, I figured my students might feel confident and ambitious enough to want to try to write something of their own. So I brought along my giant writing paper and we got to work. Each student got to add a part to the story. You can see their stories below. (Please excuse any grammatical errors in my transcription. It's tough to write fast enough to keep up with a group of preschoolers dictating at lightening speed and all shouting "Me next! Me next!")

Bet you can't tell which story was written by a group of all boys, and which was written by a group of almost all girls!

Our story for this week was Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed. Since Mo Willems used watercolors for the illustrations in their book, we used watercolors to illustrate our stories too!

This student in the above photo decided to keep writing, instead of illustrating. She came over and very animatedly "read" me her story and then declared, "Mo Willems will love this!"

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed

After what seemed like a long hiatus from Literacy Launchpad classes (my son was sick, and the week after that I was short on a babysitter). I finally was able to wrap up our Author Study (Mo Willems) last week. Yay! I'm glad we finally got to have our next lesson in the series, but I'm sad that this wonderful unit is over.

We've been in stitches reading Knuffle Bunny and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. I love stories that make us laugh. Is there anything better than a group of preschoolers giggling over a funny story?

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed (that's a lot of typing, let's refer to it as NMRGD for the rest of this post) is about Wilbur, a naked mole rat, that likes to wear clothes. The rest of the naked mole rat community is appalled by this, and tries to convince Wilbur that he shouldn't wear clothes. Wilbur asks a great question: "Why not?" The other naked mole rats go visit Grand-pah, "the oldest, greatest, and most naked mole rat ever." They explain the issue to him, and then Grand-pah decides to make a proclamation. He declares that it's O.K. to wear clothes. The story ends with some of the naked mole rats deciding that they want to wear clothes too. Wilbur opens a clothing store... and they all live happily ever after (I added that last part, but it does end happily).

I really liked the way this story started, but the second half of the story left much to be desired for me. I feel like Willems had a clever idea, but the story didn't keep up it's momentum the whole way through. My students picked up on this as well. They were very engaged for the first half of the story, and then when we hit the middle of the story, the wiggling and distracted gazes began. This was not the case for our other two Willems stories.

I didn't completely dislike the story. It has its charm. Perhaps I just had too high of hopes for it. Has anyone else read NMRGD? What did you think about it? Am I way off base here?

I anticipated giggling and such during the story, and I got it. Come on, any story with "naked" in the title is sure to get preschoolers giggling.

I also had some students asking what a proclamation is. I love that their brains are engaged and they don't mind asking questions.

The discussions following the story (with each group) became about why we wear clothes. It was interesting. They relished in the silliness of the naked mole rats, but got real serious about why we shouldn't be naked.

I thought it appropriate to end our author study by letting the children get a chance to be authors and illustrators. So we did a popcorn story. I started the story off (after letting the students choose what the story would be about), and then each student got to add something to the story. This activity was a struggle for the youngest group of students, but they did O.K. with a little help from me. The older students really took off with the story. They're so creative, and we ended up with some silly tales. What I really liked was that each group wanted their story to be about one (or several) of Willems' characters that we had read about during this unit.

After creating our stories, we used watercolor paints (like Willems did in NMRGD) to create illustrations to go along with our stories. The students were chatty, chatty, chatty as they painted their pictures. They were talking about our story, and about their illustrations.

Great lesson!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

This Week's Lesson Round-Up

We continued our author study (Mo Willems) yesterday with a read-aloud of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. During this interactive story, a handful of my students thought it was funnier to say "yes" to the pigeon's pleadings to drive the bus, than to say "no" (of course). It was very entertaining, made for great discussion.

The best was hearing them describe to me (after the story) why a pigeon shouldn't drive a bus. They gave me very detailed (and sometimes gory) descriptions of what destruction the pigeon might cause. I have to admit, some of their comments disturbed me a bit.

I was so impressed that so many of my students remembered Mo Willems as the subject of our author study. They came into class talking about Mo, before I even mentioned him. And these were some of my younger students too! One of them told me that he saw Mo at the grocery store! I'm sure that he didn't (we live in Tennessee), but it was cute nonetheless.

We tried our hand again at being illustrators like Mo, and dreamed up what we might write about if we were authors. It was great fun, and the kids all loved hearing another story of Willems'. They love his stuff, and I can't wait to read them Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed next week.

This unit is going better than I could have imagined. They're even asking if there are more books that Willems has written. I've been encouraging them to visit the library and check some of his stuff out (hmm, once I return it all), and I REALLY hope they do!

Check out the nose-pickin' going on in the back here.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Knuffle Bunny Wannabes

We're working on an author study right now (Mo Willems). Yesterday we read Knuffle Bunny, and then tried our hand at being illustrators using the same technique as Willems. Check it out!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Knuffle Bunny - A Quick Glimpse

photo by popofatticus

Tomorrow in class, I'll be reading my kiddos Knuffle Bunny (pronounced with a hard "k" according to Mo Willems). This will kick off our author study of Mo Willems! Woohoo! I'm so excited about this author study. I'm anxious to see how the students will respond to Willems' humor. His books are very Pixar-esque in that their is humor aimed at both children and adults. So it will be interesting to see which jokes are appreciated by my audience tomorrow, and which go over their little heads.

I chose three Mo Willems books for this author study (the next two will be revealed in later posts... or go see them in the Literacy Launchpad Store), all with varying types of illustrations. This is one of the things I love about Willems' work: he has diversity in his illustrative work, while still maintaining a signature style.

So onto Knuffle Bunny... that's what this post is supposed to be about, right? Such unique illustrations! Willems took photographs of his neighborhood, set them in a sepia tone, enlarged them, and used them as the backgrounds for the illustrations. I heard him say in an interview that he enjoyed this technique, because he hates drawing backgrounds. Ha! The characters and such in this book are all still his classic-style ink drawings, placed onto the photographs.

I also heard him say in an interview (perhaps the same one I just referenced?) that this was an autobiographical story. The family in the book is supposedly based on his family. How cool!

What happens in the story is that Trixie, a toddler, goes with her dad to the local laundromat. She brings her Knuffle Bunny along with her (we are to assume that Knuffle Bunny is a much beloved stuffed animal of hers). Trixie then accidentally leaves Knuffle Bunny at the laundromat. She tries to tell her dad, but since she can only babble jibberish (remember, she's a toddler), her dad does not understand her.

Upon returning home, Mom asks where Knuffle Bunny is, and dad suddenly realizes what Trixie had been trying to tell him on the way home. They all rush back to the laundromat and eventually find Knuffle Bunny. The story concludes with Trixie exclaiming, "Knuffle Bunny," as her first words.

Much of this story is told with the illustrations. The dad's expressions are just priceless. And the sarcasm used throughout the narration really makes me giggle. Like I said earlier, I can't wait to see how much of it my students pick up on.

Obviously, this is a tale that I think most little kiddos (and parents) can probably relate to. It's simple, yet clever and engaging. I really enjoyed it! And will be enjoying it again, and again, and again tomorrow!

Have you read Knuffle Bunny? How 'bout its sequel, Knuffle Bunny Too? Do ya like? Dislike? Do tell!

Stay tuned for photos from our lesson we'll be doing tomorrow.