105 Ways to Give a Book

A Mo Willems Encounter

I haven’t written about Mo Willems for a while. Partially because I didn’t want to seem completely obsessed — and partially because of the “Cease and Desist” order. I didn’t say much about The Pigeon Wants a Puppy, even though I loved it. I stayed quiet as the new Elephant and Piggie books came out, even though I had waxed poetic about the first ones with the ladies at 7-Imp. I didn’t even squee on this blog about getting the Mo Willems sketchbook for 2009 as a Christmas card (though I did squee internally and it was quite painful). But now, with a new stand-alone book out and with the restraining order expired, it was time to go to a Mo book signing.

I brought the fourth grader so I could look legit. We got to the Barnes and Noble about thirty minutes early and it was already packed. I bought the book, The Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, and got number 74 for the signing. Eventually they would give out tickets past two hundred. And each ticket was per family. That’s a lot of fans.

Since there were so many people there, it was hard to find a good place to see Mo (and be seen by Mo). I had the kid sit on the floor up front. In fact, right up front, since we came over from the side instead of from the back like normal people. In retrospect, this seems quite rude. Oh, well. While most of the adults were standing in the back, I managed to find a place to the side behind a stationary display and adjusted my view by wrenching the sign off the top. Perfect. (I put it back later.)

I talked with a mom who voiced her concern that her son wouldn’t stop reading his Star Wars book when Mo came out. As I had a similar concern that my daughter wouldn’t remove her iPod headphones, I saved us both my reminding our kids. They took it well. The mom turned out to be a blogger too, which I wouldn’t find out until later, when she commented here. She got arguably the best picture of the reading — maybe of any book signing ever.

Mo was introduced by the store manager, who requested no flash photography or videotaping. Oh, well. Mo read from The Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed and was wonderful. The book was funny and enjoyable. Mo was a delightfully expressive reader. I actually found it hard to concentrate since I was trying to get my camera to take pictures without flash but in focus. Not easy.

He took questions from the kids, and my clever darling asked the first one, which was “What was your inspiration in writing this book?” Mo said that it was a good question (That’s my kid!) and said that his inspiration comes in the mail each month, and “it’s called a mortgage.” The adults all laughed. Another child asked how you say Knuffle Bunny, and Mo replied, “That all depends on how you pronounce it.” Again, laughter. He went on to say that he pronounced the hard K, because it comes from a Dutch word, but that whoever reads it can pronounce it however they want — just not around him. Another child asked if he was the man in the Pigeon books. Mo answered that the man in the books is the bus driver, but added, “If anyone in the pigeon books is me... it’s the pigeon, unfortunately.”

After the questions, Mo read from his new Elephant and Piggie book, Are You Ready to Play Outside? Again, great book, great presentation. Then it was time for the signing. As I grabbed my kid from the front before she got trampled, I was able to catch Mo’s eye. He did not — as you might guess — duck and run, but instead said, approximately, “Hey! Blogger!” He shook my daughter’s hand, and said it was nice to see us there. I told him that we were glad that we could make it and we’d get in line for our signing. Notice the perfect decorum displayed there.

At our turn, my daughter asked when the Pigeon was going to get clothes, now that the Mole Rat had them. Mo replied that the Pigeon spends all his money on bus-driving lessons. I had Mo sign my sketchbook. (He signed it, “Rock On Mo Reader! Thanx for the support! MO!”) I asked how he was liking his new home outside the city. He said that he did like it, and that there were lots of children in the neighborhood for his daughter. I said that it was good to see him, and he said it was good to see me too (Squeee!) and we shook hands.

I had a contact high for an hour. I think I’m addicted. Again.

20 comments:

Cathy said...

I was fortunate enough to attend one of his reading/signings a couple of years ago in Boston and he was amazing! So funny and great with the kids. I got all my Mo books signed which was such a thrill for me. He is one of the nicest authors out there...

Franki said...

So glad you had another Mo Willems encounter! I am totally bummed that Ohio is not on his tour! Thanks for sharing the visit for those who won't get a chance to see him any time soon.

Kristi(e) said...

JEALOUS!!! I hope that one day when I become a real adult (i.e., one not living in dormitory housing--there is no way that you can be a real dorm and shower with flip flops on) I can go to a signing. I will substitute this jealous energy into a super awesome Mo Willems storytime.

Please note: my word verification is very relevant today--storyi

morninglight mama said...

Yeah! For the parts that I was able to hear, I found him highly entertaining. :) It was lovely meeting you there as well!

Kelly Fineman said...

though I did squee internally and it was quite painful HA!

I saw Mo the day before you did, as I mentioned in my blog post with my favorite blog post title to date Absolutely Maybe Naked Mole Rats (since I bought Lisa Yee's new novel the same day). I thought of you and hoped you'd get to see him, knowing what a Mo fan you are.

Vivian said...

My middle daughter is a little peeved at me. We missed the Mo Willems signing the other day, and she found out one of her friends went. I have some serious making up to do...

Glad you were able to see him!

laurasalas said...

He's coming to a bookshop about an hour away next week during a weekday. I'm hoping to get away to hear him, but it depends on weather and workload! Glad you had such a great time. He's so entertaining!

caribookscoops said...

Glad you had fun. Mo Willems is one my favorites too and alas I live in the Rocky Mountains so no book signing for us.

Solvang Sherrie said...

What a great encounter! Nice photo too, even without the flash :)

Pat said...

Hello, my name is Pat and I totally adore Mo Willems. I have also met him in person (a number of times and no, this cannot be considered stalking).....but it might be just that. I have met Trixie too. She is a hoot and has his sense of humor. When I met Trixie I told her how much I had wanted to meet her...she responded "Well, now you can say you have met Trixie". Adorable and something Mo would have said.

Melissa said...

Jealous, jealous, jealous. When will anybody come to Kansas? Sigh. Maybe I should just move back to DC...

Jen Robinson said...

"Partially because I didn’t want to seem completely obsessed"

I think it's a little late for that, Pam. But I do think it's an example of a highly successful effort to brand your blog around something that you really feel passionately about. No one on the blogs could ever share news of Mo without thinking of you.

Marni said...

We LOVE Elephant and Piggie! Our definite favorite is "Are You Ready to Play Outside?" All 5 of my kids (plus any extras) pile around and giggle while we read that. The worms are too too funny.

Stella said...

Oh!! You are so lucky! He is my absolute favorite! But at least we can get a "peek" of Mo Willem's work through you!

Boni Ashburn said...

So. Jealous.

The Book Chook said...

Now you've done it! I must look for a Mo Willems book to discover exactly what inspires all this devotion.

(Sad but true, I've never read one.)

Mary Lee said...

This post is classic MotherReader. I'm laughing out loud!

Alycia in Va. said...

All I can say is "SO COOL" and "I'M SO ENVIOUS". Can't believe we missed this as a fellow Richmonder, ugh!

Thanks for posting about it though.

Saints and Spinners said...

I'm convinced that if Mo is anyone in his books, he's Gerald the Elephant. Just look at the face of Gerald! The resemblance (minus the trunk) is uncanny.

Mo loves you, MR. What he said to me was, "I love the bloggers," and he greeted you as "Blogger," ergo, he loves you.

Amy @ Literacy Launchpad said...

I'm SO jealous! Wish he would come do a signing here. we're doing a Mo Willems author study next month.