Book Review: Welcome, by Mo Willems

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_welcome.jpgWe absolutely adore Mo Willems in our family. He’s the bestselling creator of the hilariously mad Elephant & Piggie series, as well as Knuffle Bunny, and the brilliant Pigeon picture books; all of which have brought much glee to adult and child readers alike. Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals is the newest book from this talented former Sesame Street writer and animator.

Aimed at parents and caregivers of new additions, this gorgeous book is a life instruction manual for little ones, designed to be read aloud to your new baby. The message of the book is gorgeous: ‘This is you, you are you, you are loved. No restrictions apply.’ It is a delightful, loving, life lesson to share with your little person.

This book will last well into toddlerhood with its heavier than paper, reinforced pages for durability, a fun mirror inside the front cover, and very simple pictures on coloured pages. This book is sure to be a hit at baby showers, christenings and any other gift-giving opportunities to celebrate a new arrival to your community. And as always, the Pigeon makes a sneaky cameo appearance in the book.

Review by Tiffany Matsis

by Mo Willems
Published by Walker Books
ISBN 9781406383584

Book Review: How to be Famous, by Michal Shalev

Available in bookshops in February 

cv_how_to-be_famousMichal Shalev has created the toughest pigeon since Mo Willems’ eponymous Pigeon (who
wanted to drive the bus). He may not be quite as wise-crackin’ as Willems’ pigeon, but what he lacks in street-smarts he gains in sheer gumption.

This pigeon is a famous pigeon, and he’s going to tell you how you, too, can become famous. The first spread introduces us to his famous family. “My uncle is famous for his bravery in the third cat war, where he lost his foot.” His other uncle is famous for having millions of girlfriends. The spread of famous pigeons successfully skewers types of fame on several levels: we’ve got the WAGs of the lady-loving Uncle, those who are famous for their job, their sports ability, where they live.

Our famous pigeon is a model, with thousands of people taking photos of him every day – his crocodile catwalk is particularly admired. But are they really taking photos of him? As we follow our friend through the pages, we realise that there are always other things of interest around as the lightbulbs are going off. And when he says he gets to sit at the table at lunchtime, the stylistic illustration makes it clear how welcome he is there. Perhaps fame isn’t always a positive thing?

This book is a subtle gem, with very effective illustrations. The eyes stand out for most of the images as we make our way around the zoo with our friend, but nothing is overdrawn or unnecessary. People are cartoon-like without being grotesque, and every line drawn is full of expression. Most images are rendered in one or two colour washes, with dashes of white and black used to highlight. My favourite animals are easily the grumpy, gossiping penguins: this spread, like all of the illustrations are loaded with meaning, without even needing to read the text.

The final spread shows just how fleeting fame can be, to my son’s hilarity. I am very happy that Gecko Press has brought yet another fantastic international children’s author to our attention. I look forward to seeing more from Israeli author/illustrator, Michal Shalev.

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

How to be Famous
by Michal Shalev
Published by Gecko Press
ISBN 9781776570294

Book Review: The Pigeon Needs a Bath! by Mo Willems


This book is available in bookstores nationwide.

Upon receiving this book, my 3-year-old required it be read to him three times. Then he had me make up stories about the end pages. And tell him about all of the other books advertised in the back. Which, of course, he wants.

While I am very familiar with Mo Willems and his most New York of pigeons, this was Daniel’s first introduction at his current age (I read them for my own enjoyment when he was too small!) He loved everything about it, but especially the narrative as the pigeon tries to get the bathwater right. Now, every time he gets in the bath or shower and starts complaining, I remind him of the pigeon.

The simplicity of the Pigeon stories places the complex character of a forthright, intelligent 4-year-old, in the form of a bird. Over several books, the pigeon teaches kids to face their fears, to put their own ego aside occasionally, how to share, how reality doesn’t always measure up to imagination, and helps them realise that they may not quite be able to do everything they might like to do. Not many people get away with this type of character without the lessons being mawkish, but this is the unique genius of Mo Willems.

My only regret about The Pigeon Needs a Bath is that I don’t have a New York accent to read it in! My friend has been in New York recently, and I seriously toyed with the idea of asking her to approach somebody in a bookstore and ask them to read it for her, just so I could have the recording. I guess I could just check YouTube!

If I gave stars to my review books, this one would earn so many stars there isn’t enough room for them all – go out and collect the whole Pigeon series (and the rest of Mo Willems’ oeuvre).

Reviewed by Sarah Forster

The Pigeon Needs a Bath!
by Mo Willems
Published by Walker Books
ISBN 9781406357783

Email digest: Tuesday 6 August 2013

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