Kohl’s talks to Mo about his career, The Pigeon & more
Each season, Kohl’s Cares offers new product with 100% of the net profit benefiting children’s initiatives nationwide. This back to school season, Kohl’s has partnered with Mo Willems to bring his whimsical stories about The Pigeon, Elephant & Piggie and Knuffle Bunny to our customers.
Mo Willems is an award-winning author and illustrator who created the wonderful, wacky world of The Pigeon and his friends. Writing about the themes of sharing and friendship, The Pigeon, Duckling and friends take young readers through hilarious, high-stakes adventures in hot dog eating, bus driving, bath taking and more. A signature Mo Willems bonus, The Pigeon is hidden in every story.
Kohl’s sat down with Mo to talk about his career, the next adventures for Elephant & Piggie and early-childhood literacy.
Q. You were a writer and animator for Sesame Street early in your career. Now you have over fifty children’s books in print. How did your start in television set the stage for your success in books?
Writing for television is like going to a story gym. You work out every single day, quickly creating scenarios that will entertain. And, like at a gym, you have trainers who can help (and spot) you as you struggle to do well. After a while, your story muscles get strong enough that you have a muscle memory of what does and doesn’t work. Even better, you get to do all of this in relative anonymity, so no one knows when you don’t hit the mark!
Q. As a kid, you famously honed your skills by writing and illustrating your own Peanuts comics. Today, kids use your characters as inspiration for their own stories. What is it like to now share that same creative spark with so many young readers?
There is nothing, I repeat nothing, more flattering or heart-warming than having kids create their own narratives with my characters. When I perform for kids and their grown-ups I want everyone to have a good time, but the real magic is when those kids go home, pull out some paper and crayons, and get to town creating.
Q. The Pigeon has a lot of hopes and dreams. As the creator, what are your hopes and dreams for The Pigeon?
I hope and dream he’ll stop complaining when I don’t make books about him.
Q. After twenty-five ELEPHANT & PIGGIE adventures, you decided it was time to finish the series. How have fans reacted? What’s next for Elephant & Piggie?
Elephant & Piggie are retired from starring in books, but continue to support and introduce new books they love in the ELEPHANT & PIGGIE LIKE READING! series, which has been great fun for me to work on as a coeditor. Most people have been gracious about my ending the series and my desire to try creating different types of stories. I hope they’ll enjoy my new efforts.
Q. You work with several charitable organizations to support early-childhood literacy. Why are programs like Kohl’s Cares merchandise program important to you?
Simply put, the disparity of access to age-appropriate books in this country is shocking and appalling. For those focused on the pragmatic, access to books is a leading indicator of future achievement. For those interested in emotional well-being, books provide powerful windows, doorways, testing grounds, escapes, empowering environments, and sparks towards creativity. Either way, there’s no downside to getting books into the hands of as many kids as possible and I am proud to do my part towards that goal.
Thanks Mo! Shop the Mo Willems Kohl’s Cares collection here. Happy reading!
Art © Mo Willems. ELEPHANT & PIGGIE is a trademark of The Mo Willems Studio, Inc.