In dashing off a note of congratulations to Mo, I slipped in that I might want to ask a few questions. Gracious man that he is — and wise as well — he shared some thoughts about the awards.
When did you get the call and what did you say? And then when did you get the second call and what did you say?
I can’t really recall. Let’s assume I was witty and clever and charming and modest and kind and thoughtful and erudite with clear diction on one call and a dumb jackass on the other, shall we?1
Looking around the previous Caldecott winners, I can’t find another example of a book sequel getting a nod. What do you think sets Knuffle Bunny Too apart for this Caldecott first?
Bemelmans did it for Madeline (Honor, ’39) and Madeline’s Rescue (Medal, ’54).
As for what set my books apart for this “Caldecott second,” it’s unfair to ask me to judge what judges judged. I’m just glad they liked ’em...
I have to admit that the Geisel award wasn’t on my radar screen. Was it something you had in your sights for the Elephant and Piggie series?
I was really shooting for the Ulysses Award, or as it’s known in the vernacular, the “Hard Reader Medal”.2 This über-prestigious distinction is given annually to the least comprehensible book for humans published by a University Press.3
I thought I was a shoo-in as the “Elephant” in the Elephant and Piggie books is a reference to pre-industrial mythology as contrived in the post-impressionist period (duh), while the “Piggie” represents a pig (oink).
My disappointment is tempered by the fact that I’m not Irish.
You’ve won Caldecotts, a Carnegie Medal, and six Emmy Awards. As a well-known children’s author/illustrator, how can you get the Geisel Award noticed in the area of early literacy?
That’s a question for Herr Ambassador.
- I can, however, recall the favorite thing that’s been said to me in the last few days. Nick Clark (who runs the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art) congratulated me on my “Bi-fecta”. Snort. ↩
- Or as it’s known in the pubs, a “Joycee.” ↩
- Past “winners” include There Be Things of Wildness, Yet Where They Be is Either Unknown or Unknowable; Propel Thyself Canine, Propel Thyself (for If We Move Not, Can We Really Be Said to Be?); and more controversially, a direct rip-off of The Giving Tree entitled Stumpy: The Arboreal Being With No Boundaries. ↩