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The Kennedy Center

Mo Willems

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    Meet Mo Willems



Biography

RECENTLY ANNOUNCED: MO WILLEMS IS THE FIRST KENNEDY CENTER EDUCATION ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE

#1 New York Times Bestseller Mo Willems began his career as a writer and animator for PBSSesame Street, where he garnered 6 Emmy Awards for his writing. During his nine seasons at Sesame Street, Mo also served as a weekly commentator for BBC Radio and created two animated series, Nickelodeon’s The Off-Beats and Cartoon Network’s Sheep in the Big City.

While serving as head writer for Cartoon Network’s #1 rated show, Codename: Kids Next Door, Mo began writing and drawing books for children. His debut effort, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! became a New York Times Bestseller and was awarded a Caldecott Honor in 2004. The following year Knuffle Bunny: a Cautionary Tale was awarded a Caldecott Honor. The sequel, Knuffle Bunny Too: a Case of Mistaken Identity garnered Mo his third Caldecott Honor in 2008.

In addition to picture books, Mo created the Elephant and Piggie books, a series of “Easy Readers”, which were awarded the Theodor Suess Geisel Medal in 2008 and 2009 and Geisel Honors in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. For older audiences he has published an illustrated memoir of his year-long trip around the world in 1990-91 entitled You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When it Monsoons and Don't Pigeonhole Me!, a collection of 20 years of his annual sketchbooks. His books have been translated into over 20 languages.

Mo’s drawings, wire sculptures, and sculpture have exhibited in numerous galleries and museums across the nation, including major retrospectives at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA, the High Museum in Atlanta, GA, The New-York Historical Society, The Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, and the Seongnam Arts Center in Seoul, South Korea. His graphic story about his family experiences during 9-11 for DC comics resides in the Library of Congress’ permanent collection.

Mo has been heard on NPR’s All Things Considered, where he briefly served as the broadcast’s ‘Radio Cartoonist’. Mo voices and produces animated cartoons based on his books with Weston Woods studios which have been screened at festivals around the world and won Best Film during the New York International Children’s Film Festival and 3 Carnegie Medals from the American Library Association.

Mo has written the script and lyrics for Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical and Elephant and Piggie's WE ARE IN A PLAY! Both plays commissioned by and debuted at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC and consistently run in productions around the nation. His rock opera, NAKED MOLE RAT GETS DRESSED, premiered at the Seattle Children's Theater in 2018.

His monumental sculpture, The Red Elephant, can be viewed in the courtyard of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.

Mo lives in Massachusetts with his family.

Upcoming Events

  • <em>Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!</em> (<em>The Musical</em>) Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (The Musical)

    Whatever you do, don’t let the Pigeon star in his own musical production! Starring an innovative mix of actors, puppets, songs, and feathers, this world premiere Kennedy Center commission features a script by Mo Willems, creator of the best-selling “Pigeon” picture books, along with Muppet Babies executive producer Mr. Warburton, plus music by Deborah Wicks La Puma, the composer of Elephant & Piggie’s We Are in a Play! Ages 5+

  • NSO Family Concert: <em>Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs </em>(a Symphonic Spectacular) NSO Family Concert: Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs (a Symphonic Spectacular)

    Once upon a time, there were three hungry Dinosaurs: Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur… and a Dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway! That’s the just the beginning of a hilarious fractured, symphonic take on Goldilocks and the Three Bears, as retold by Mo Willems. Don't miss this new classic performed by favorite performers and the NSO, featuring original music composed by indie pop icon and NSO Artistic Advisor Ben Folds. Ages 5+

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