Before we begin, please secure all personal items and keep your hands and feet inside the Mo Willems Experience at all times.
It came to pass that my very large and rich county put together an Early Literacy Resource Session for the family child care providers in the area the idea being that they would be fed, would pick up some information about the county resources, would get some free books, and would listen to the speech of a famous children’s author. At the last minute, the department director extended the invitation to the public libraries. What an amazing opportunity.
I arrived at the venue like a teenager at a rock concert, though without the skintight pants or the beer hidden in my bag. I proceeded to explain to everyone who looked marginally official that I was there to hear Mo Willems and to get my books signed, my hope being that I would find the one person in charge who would be delighted to personally introduce me to the man of the hour and perhaps get the two of us cocktails while we talked.
This scenario was perhaps a little overly optimistic.
Mo Willems arrived and was greeted by the director, who would be the one person I had not personally regaled with my tale of admiration. I hung around nearby, with the idea that he would just know somehow that he should meet me. Or maybe he would turn and say, “Cute purse.” You never know.
Director lady whisked Mo away, and my chance for personal contact was gone. Might as well use the facilities before the dinner and speech. As I left the restroom, momentary disoriented as to the direction back to the conference room, I turned to see the man himself.
And boy, was he cute.
“You’re Mo Willems,” I said cleverly, since famous children’s book authors often forget their own names.
“I am,” he said, reaching over to shake my hand (what a gentleman).
“I’m Lois Lane [insert my real name there] and I am a big fan of yours,” I said.
“Thanks. Thanks a lot,” he said. (Okay, time to come up with something different, something that puts me on a different level.)
“So, how does it feel being named one of the hottest men in children’s literature?” I said (or something like that).
(No, no you didn’t, says Fuse#8. Oh yes I did, I say.)
He told me how he protested that designation, and I told him how I saw his return letter. He said something about another children’s author; I was busy thinking that he really was that hot, and can I say that? Then we arrived at the room where he was to be sequestered and director lady was shooting daggers at me with her eyes while simultaneously smiling. Ignoring her, I went in for the kill.
“I also have a blog on kids’ lit. MotherReader. Have you seen it?” I said, shamelessly.
“I don’t recall,” he said, “I do know about the blogs on kids books. Like Chicken Spaghetti?” (He knows your blog C.S.!)
“Yeah, we link to each other, just like Fuse#8. I reviewed your new book and mentioned that the first book was discount priced at Amazon.com for $5.99,” I said, shamelessly.
“That’s a bargain,” he said, getting herded into the waiting area by director lady.
“I’ll be in line to get my books signed. Nice talking to you [nice stalking you],” I said, shamelessly.
I left the hall to pick up some dinner for myself, giving the thumbs-up sign to the fourteen women I had blathered to about meeting Mo. As I was finishing, I realized that he was signing books upstairs. I grabbed my books and waited in line. He seemed very chatty with the people getting their books signed, which is even more sweet when you realize that before that evening, most of them didn’t know who he was. I got to the front of the line with my two books and the names of my two daughters on a post-it note, to make it easier for him to personalize the signature.
“Hi, could you sign one for each of my daughters please?” I said. “We just love your books.”
“Sure. Thanks,” he said.
“Do you mind if I take a picture for my blog while you sign?” I said, camera at the ready.
“Just as long as I don’t have to look up at the flash,” he said
“No problem. Thanks,” I said, taking the picture quickly and putting away my camera.
“Oh, and in case you are interested, I wrote down my web address if you want to come by and check it out,” I said, shamelessly giving him a post-it note. This is where I may or may not have also passed him a twenty. It’s a little hazy.
“Oh, good. I think these blogs for children’s books are great,” he said, putting my post-it to the side of the not-being-thrown-out post-its, and perhaps pocketing the twenty. We’ll never know, will we?
“Well, thanks again,” I said, cheerfully. For I had two signed books with little hand-drawn pigeons, a photo in the camera, and I had given him my website. Brazen as a hussy. Yeah, pretty much, but I can live with that. Because there remains the chance that Mo Willems, children’s author extraordonaire, may visit my site. Maybe he’ll comment. Maybe he’ll see in my sharp writing and humorous style, a kindred spirit. He’ll throw an email my way. He come to the party for my first book on the children’s literature scene. And we’ll trace it all back to this moment.
Or I’ll have an amusing little story about how I accosted Mo Willems outside the restrooms, opened with the hot men line, and plugged my blog shamelessly. Shame. Less. Ly.
Tomorrow, The Mo Willems Speech as interpreted by the lady in the front row.