GBBP 135: Mo Willems

The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, Episode 135: Mo Willems

You can listen on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and YouTube; you can follow the RSS feed; or you can listen right here!


This week, we’re absolutely thrilled to be joined by the incomparable Mo Willems. If I do say so myself, this episode is just a delight from beginning to end. Willems is perhaps best known as the creative genius behind Knuffle BunnyDon’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus (and the other Pigeon books), and the stellar Elephant and Piggie series. Willems recently ended that series—after an astonishing 25 books and more than 10 years—with The Thank You Book.

He’s been awarded the Caldecott Honor an unbelievable three times, Elephant and Piggie have been adapted to a musical, his books have been translated into dozens of languages, and his creativity has inspired and captivated millions of kids (and adults).

In short, he’s probably the closest thing to Dr. Seuss we have working today.

But he’s so much more than bunnies, pigeons, elephants, and pigs. He’s also got naked mole rats, alligators, and cats up his sleeve. And that’s not even mentioning the gorgeous Story of Diva and Flea he wrote (and which Tony DiTerlizzi illustrated). His books are some of the most heartwarming, charming, and beautifully made children’s books on the market. Bar none.

On today’s episode, we talk with Willems about the importance of failure, intentionally simple design, what his characters sound like, using picture books to understand the world, and the challenges of putting art into the world. I may or may not have also explained how Willems’s books taught me to be a better father. This one is thick with insight, so hunker down and enjoy!


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Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. When he's not knee deep in a convoluted grammatical mess of a sentence, he's likely on an adventure with his two adorable ragamuffins. You can check out more of his ramblings on The Roarbots, StarWars.com, and Babble.