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     Program 06-15 Guest Mo Willems Book Dont Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late; The
    Fine Print with Rebecca Bain April 15 & 16, 2006
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from national public radio this is the fine print and exploration and celebration of the written word i'm rebecca bain it is on the day i don't normally talk to the authors of books for young children after all i sincerely doubt that any five year old would get much from this program but i am making an exception with mo willems moment is one remarkable man he has been an animator a standup comic a radio commentator us around the system and a bubble gum colored he has received six emmy awards for his writing on sesame street he created a cartoon network's sheep in the big city and he's animated well over sixty shortz for festivals hbo nickelodeon and mtv and for the past few years he has endeared himself to children and parents alike with his series of books starring the first don't let the pigeon drive the bus was awarded a calico honor in two thousand for the popularity of this book led others among them the page
and find the hot dog and the pigeon has feelings too the latest pigeon book has just made its appearance on shelves and parents will recognize the delaying tactics found in don't let the pigeon stay up late mo willems is my guest and i promise grownups will find him just as entertaining as children do his books and actually i am delighted neither stan when you were little your dream was to grow up in the a gas station attendant because you love the smell of gasoline that's true i also really enjoyed the uniform and i knew that the ladies they love a man in uniform so i think there are two things the smell and the uniform that really attracted me to this profession well i think that the us making gasoline tells me a lot about how isolated iran i hadn't really thought about that so distressing show me a kid who doesn't like the smell of gasoline and i'll show you a really warped china
just part of childhood are growing up did you do all the time is this something that you just this was something i really enjoyed certainly i am i love to draw i was an only child to spend a lot of time alone and drawing was a great way to create my own stories and i was very effective as a young kid by peanuts i just thought it was the coolest rep i love charlie brown because he was the only child character and my world that was honest about childhood sang about getting passed thanks in all its votes things don't always work out the way you want them to and so my dream my passion was to draw charlie brown i even wrote your shorts a letter when i was a child saying can i have your job when you're dead so overwhelmingly then i have drove fords finally did pass it turned out that my father never sent a letter so i lost the opportunity for employment in that way what a terrible thing
for a dad to do was arrested the very charlie brown thing you know you're right it's a perfect it's absolutely perfect or how about the humor or you funny when you are a kid are i try to be you know i'm originally dutch and the dutch like to tell jokes quite a bit and they have they like to wear tease each other news language and i grew up in new orleans which is a great storytelling town so being funny was a you know it was pretty cool thing to do i wasn't officially athletic as i think most funny guys aren't bad but you it was in an excuse i wasn't funny to like fend off blows or anything which is something fun to do it sometimes people who are funny do it as a defense it i suppose you know i like many funny people i was miserable as a child but that was just because i was a child you know i love being an adult now i'm very happy because i can go into any store and buy a candy bar whenever i want to and eat it and no one will stop you know on st patrick's day if i don't wear a green no one
will hit me or pinch me and then blame me for that so i might feel for being an adult it's a lot more fun on with the imam and it you know people thought oh if i could only go back again i think where is your head and your memory who would want to go back you know it's a rw lose a memory or a child who comes back from school and you say what did you do today and they say nothing probably had a great day because they have no memory of the good things in the moment you know they give a lollipop and the next second it's gone to their mind but all of those good memories i think just gets stored for later for adult really interesting point is unlike that i think that it i think you know children just don't experience joy to his urdu either something about the hard wiring and they will remember those insults and the tough things and the difficulties constantly being told no and they can't reach thanks you know you would
get like how frustrating wouldn't be that you have to get like four five chairs just to wash your hands every time that's kind of a dread all good students are not selling anything that has been said a million times before where kids are so blunt and in some ways that's a good thing because elders' come on and tell you how it is but if you're a kid with a kid and the kids says i don't like you or you know they mean and you know i know there's no sugar coating they're you know they're i don't like you and your devastated when you're a child and i think children are mean to children and adults are terrible to them to a certain degree because they're constantly saying no when you graduated from college he's been a year travelling around the world there's so many moderate as a drain doesn't hodgepodge when the great to take a year off and travel around the world but you actually do do that so many people don't want a new said no i'm going to do this no matter what
i knew that i was unemployed will i was pretty certain that nobody would hire me as an animator so i realized i had this free time i also come but luckily from a travelling family when i was fifteen my father and i we traced napoleon step from colbert to paris we walked the road of polio for about six weeks when i was seventeen i kayak to the rhine so there was almost an understanding that there would be some sort of adventure ah when i finished up college and i enjoyed at the rally i felt guilty at the time and that's why i made those drawings every day because then at least there was a project in my mind that this trip would be about i would come back with the document is that but still coming out in may that book is coming out in may it's all the drawings i made a single drawing every day every annotated them gave very wrote a very funny little intro and we're calling it you can never get a rickshaw one and monsoons it's a different project and what i usually do
and i mean i'm excited and dave barry do the intro i mean it needs help ease young guy i'm sure one day but i feel that you know i've i'm doing the right thing by helping is actually the hardest is all outdoors that is indeed it is a very large heart or when you got back he went to work for sesame street well i knew when i got back i i was unemployed for a little while and i did very odd things i painted bubble gum cards and i wrote patter from monster truck rally is really did whatever i could a few years later as of steel as a young guy about twenty four i was hired by sesame street to be both an animator in that apartment and also a writer for the show which was you know a dream come true it is really pretty heady stuff for twenty four year olds it was it was great it all cement i got to leave my job of drawing beavis and butthead have been quite happy as well six emmys that's right no they were having a sale as will it's a costco kind of thing
that are involved are but sixteen years and seven years and nine seasons actually an end to put it in context it was four that the writers it was all of us up for writing the best preschool series and we're very lucky was a good time on sesame street i think that we were doing good work some of them i don't think that i earned others perhaps i did but i'm quite happy to take them partially because if you're walking down the street with an emmy you can always get a cab and this is something i learned that though they're angry that you wanted a brooklyn after that take you up but it's still at a great way to health care law and they borrow and for me i think sometimes of that they're sticking one of my duffel bag if i'm going to be in an area where they would be hard to care because they are helpful well in writing for sesame street i mean as an adult i love watching that show when i don't get to see it anymore because of the hours i keep but when i used to do the early morning shift at the home in the afternoons and i can see
sesame street and the humor is so sophisticated yet so i don't know accessible to children is a really fine line which obviously is why the show has gotten so many grammys walk that line yeah well i was you know a funny is funny and the only real rule that you need to know is that you can use irony children can understand cultural modifiers christeson been around that role but funny is funny and and i've always tried to work not on two level but on one level to make sure that you're not writing above the child's sensibility or whatnot and i find that to be that interest group frankly on take my whole audience seriously but if i'm not having fun as a writer then the chances are my audiences and having fun as well so it should be funny to me and then funny to my body or to give you a sense of the first person narrative
by continuing this series of books mo willems a few pages don't let that he didn't stand up we open up the book and for or threatened the bus drivers a song that you listened to its getting late and i need to brush my teeth can you do me a favor don't let the pigeon stay up late box offices thanks that was very common and really there's a producer's first of all i'm not even tire in fact i'm in front of a party cut would you say no no i hear there's a good show about words on tv tonight should be very educational five more minutes to come on what's hot minutes in the grand scheme of things on what what i'm not tired you know if you talk to tell me about your day and i have a glass of water study showed that pigeons hardly need any sleep at all the cities in the group they
oh that's your page and booth it's the middle of the day in china i'll go to bed early tomorrow night instead my money wants to stay up late you can't say no to of money and you our conversation with children's book writer and illustrator mo willems author of the kitchen series we'll continue after a brief time and i hope you can continue to check out i know
he's been leaks but he's big it's been really careful mo and an italian alive that the books i really do and i hate pigeons i eyed the pigeon is the star the book because it apart was couldn't fit on the page you know that that's the main rationale why have in order to be able to deal with that i have decided that it's an ostrich you know pretending to be a pigeon i just it's a
dossier trapped in a pigeon's bottom there you go well you know everybody brings their own interpretation to the books i think thats fantastic so the first one was don't let oh i'm sorry was don't want a pigeon drive a bus don't let the pigeon drive the bus now which where'd that idea come from i don't you get sick of people asking you that question well i wish i had a better answer if its its almost fully formed all my other characters have worked hard and created an army many years ago probably about six seven years ago now i decided i really want to do children's books so i rented a cottage in oxford england for a month because i thought it would make me smarter and i said i'm the little garden every day and i worked on the great american children's book that was going to be this serious thing and by the end of the day i was so sick of myself with these terrible ideas that i just found myself doing this pigeon and the pigeon would say thing zinn the duels like why are you drawing these dumb book strom me i'm funnier let me do something and finally i had to essentially give into his power of persuasion
he has to flee the store the books even the books he's not in rome where he hates it when i do a lot about him and he sneaks into every single book that i've made he he is pure id what you decide not to give him a name you know i'd like my characters to be as much of a blank canvas as possible so that the audience can read can really fill in those blanks is the pigeon a boy is that a girl is c black is hispanic is he white all of those things you can see yourself on as a reader you can make the pigeons clothes yourself or as far away from yourself as possible so his name was herbert he obviously could not be empty so the pigeon just seems to fit because i want my audience to bring as much as as they can to the book because it when they do then that book means more to them because they are part of the experience and to the greek they have made the book and when children come up to you the signs that she do what things to
they say you that you go oh that's why i do this all along why isn't the page in here i mean that's the ultimate compliment i don't want to meet me and they shouldn't really want to meet me on it i was new jersey yesterday and this was very sweet this kid beloved a book called don't let the pigeon outside of the bridge and find a hot dog and he checked it out from the library every week for about two or three months into the library and said you can check this book out anymore because other kids need to have a target so he from memory made his own version of the book in a little notebook so that he could read it and he showed he brought me the drawings were excellent and it was verbatim he now had his own handmade version of that book that there was pretty special list of the most wonderful things on the rig while that day maybe for myself as well and it was it was a great experience and that means they get now the book has been plagued with yellow kids bring in their own versions
of the book like don't let the pigeon operate the catapult don't let the pigeon audit your neighbor or you know really funny interesting things i know i love that i love that sense of creativity i love the idea that it that my audience is not passed of the mounties is actually doing something with the war we have a daughter i do indeed is she an inspiration for the latest book don't let the pigeon stay up late delivery that she is the one who's always try to put me to bad and then you just want to stay up i just wanna stay off early maybe i heard it i just i will not go to bed you know reading this book the excuses i don't have children myself but i was a veteran babysitter about her i've heard every one of these excuses but fishing and i sat down and i thought was it heart for my mother to get me to go to bed and i honestly cannot remember my mother ever sign you've got to go to bed now
because i think she knew that if she made me go to bed if i was sleepy and fall asleep if i wasn't i was going to read in the dark right yes no it was very little light on than to have me over there holding the book up to the street light you know and i could read while you know again there's this story is about having the kids be in charge really is about being on their side so it's their opportunity to say no to a powerless bird and and that's sort of the fun of it i think it's fun that after a whole day being told what you can do which can't do which can't do which can't do which get you to sit on somebody slapped and now to turn around and say that to a bird making expressions come alive on a cartoon characters face especially one is deceptively simple as pigeon is an art form and of itself it's of a line put carefully somewhere that that it's a little figure out is calligraphy an end to it and part of it comes from just acting feeling better motion as you're drawing
it what's great about cartoons unlike other forms of art are not performed well what's great about cartoons unlike some other forms of art is that you see the time that was taken and the faster the drawing is made the more life that it has wood really is alive in a very special way it's it's great fun to do it's great fun when you make that one line that changes the whole meaning of a dry it's it's a joy what for example the cover of don't let the pigeon stay up late get and is sitting down and obvious frustration have we know that well one wayne is on his hip but the real why we now is the eye is looking backwards like who do you think you are the i is the most important part of any cartoon if you draw a cartoon of somebody's smiling was set eyes are still senate because he i really is the key and that's why in the pigeon i dark in the eye i want
the darkness point to be the most important points at which you look at the first thing you see is the eye and that really informs you what they're thinking and then as you worked on the body you can see the body language which should underline or undercut with the eyes telling we're going to do these expressions how to make this come alive that way what do you study faces i mean how do you translate facial expressions into a cartoon character you know i'm very lucky to have been an animator for fifteen years i don't know how many drawings i'm a professionally but as an animator it's hundreds and hundreds of thousands and most of them have stank but you haven't noticed them because a big moving by the screen very fast so i've done a lot of my bed drawings out of three so it's it's a process it's worked on the porch lee i wish it was more magical than that but fundamentally it's just we're so frankly i don't know too many things that someone does well they're not work if you haven't spent years and years and years learning how to achieve or if not years hours and
hours and how isolated again think of a feel that that doesn't apply to know what their horwitz had to rehearse just like every absolutely there you can see yourself doing for the rest of your life do you think there's a too long ago you know it's it's frightening because it's probably the first career i've had where i can envision that i don't know if i'll keep up the pace that i'm keeping up and really so excited by the opportunity to be published at this point that i'm just writing and drawing as fast as i can before somebody turns around and pulls the plug your home and says wait a second this guy isn't always doing no more books for him you know but yeah i i it's such a great tactile physical object of your book really is a work of sculpture and at this point i think to be hard to imagine not wanting to keep making books with no one coming out in may icann get a rickshaw oh monsoon handful of the title i love the concept of pure white dc yourself doing more books for adults and an older it i think i think
so you know i've written a chapter book which i think will be a probably better year and a half and that's for sort of a middle grade audience and i've certainly done stuff for teenagers i think so i think i'd like to write more for adults but fundamentally my core will always be writing for children because writing for children is harder writing for children is more rewarding and having a book that everyone can understand is alternately to my mind better than a book that only people over the age of fifteen can understand or only people who have traveled can understand or only people who weren't whatever you know i love the purity of a picture book that there's no one who can't get it i ask you that because i imagine there are some adults in our audience you're thinking why would i want a comic book you know a picture book for adults what would be the point and i always think of raymond briggs was absolutely one of my all time favorite writer slash illustrators and if
you're not familiar with mit's in jail and he's the one who did the snowman he did of father christmas is a wonderful picture book about his parents probably were the one of most wonderful things i ever read look at and so i guess that's why mathews i thought oh boy there's room for more rain and briggs as alan there's room for mo willems to come in and do you think that the pigeon the pigeon books really are graphic novels for one on and i find that certainly for my generation and don is money biases against that having books that have a lot of images are cool i feel that picture will people maybe thirty forty years ago had to prove that this is art and the relief should take it seriously but our generation we know it's there and we're just having fun with so i'm quite happy to see pigeon book and comic book shop i'm quite happy to see it in the humor section i'm happy to see it in the children's section i'd love to see in the snow goose section
the desert used to be where everybody but yet it's it's really as all inclusive if you can find humor in it than rock on i had to switch from that to not humorous but understand you did something on nine eleven that's in the library of congress yes i did that day comic book after nine eleven dc comics decided to do some tribute comics and i had been doing some comics for dc based on sheep in the big city and they asked me if i would do a couple pages and i did a couple pages that was a slightly fictionalized version of my own experiences i used to walk to work over the williamsburg bridge every day to go to my cartoon studio i was walking over as as the events unfolded and so i did about four five page comic about my experiences and and my sense of the change that happened to me of my sense that new york really was my home this this this galvanize mean it in a very special way and
you know that the book was well received a lot of the other comics where were brilliant we had a couple exhibitions of them and they library of congress decided to take my story which was white flattering not the intent at all as i was doing it but it it's flattering aaa do you describe it it's about a young guy and he's really complaining about the city either renta so much and the women to send my kid to school can somehow love of the public schools in my neighborhood in a cop car should've whizzes by my father brother giving somebody a parking ticket then you get up to the bridge you never see events you deceive see the character and get up to the bridge yet risi sees it and that rage is used by a lot of different people hipster artists polish immigrants has see dome of blacks hispanics and we all just stopped and probably for the first time in a real way started talking to each other and discussing what was happening and try to figure it out and really those of us on land and in the comic
ii because none of the cell phone to work and i turned back and i go back to the loft where where i'm living and i say honey i'm home which has a much deeper resonance than in the beginning of the comic and that the point of the complaints about the city and and that is that the first time that i really use this sort of was a fictional family that ended up appearing also in commercial bunning a cautionary tale so it's this continuum and as i continue doing books about this family the family will age that the little girl aged parents are aging so it's almost like i have this parallel family that reacts to the same situations that they were reacting to as new yorkers whose book right singing someday we may have a book about trixie student ideally yes i now working on a book and other powerful bunny book where tricks used that we now have four in that poll and ideally that we had a world of the book where true to spend enough money for college
so yes and if she has children i would love to be and be around and be remarkable what fine it's great it is great great fun there's just no two ways about mo willems his latest career incarnation as as the writer and illustrator of children's books his latest is titled don't let the pigeon stay up late and that does conclude our program for this week i hope you enjoyed it and i hope you will join me next week as well when together we'll check out the fine print for national public radio i'm rebecca bain is business
The Fine Print
Program 06-15 Guest Mo Willems Book Dont Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late; The Fine Print with Rebecca Bain April 15 & 16, 2006
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WPLN News/Nashville Public Radio (Nashville, Tennessee)
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An episode of WPLN's The Fine Print, featuring guest Mo Willems speaking on the subject of his book "Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!"
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Host: Bain, Rebecca
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Chicago: “The Fine Print; Program 06-15 Guest Mo Willems Book Dont Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late; The Fine Print with Rebecca Bain April 15 & 16, 2006 ,” 2006, WPLN News/Nashville Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed October 3, 2023,
MLA: “The Fine Print; Program 06-15 Guest Mo Willems Book Dont Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late; The Fine Print with Rebecca Bain April 15 & 16, 2006 .” 2006. WPLN News/Nashville Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. October 3, 2023. <>.
APA: The Fine Print; Program 06-15 Guest Mo Willems Book Dont Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late; The Fine Print with Rebecca Bain April 15 & 16, 2006 . Boston, MA: WPLN News/Nashville Public Radio, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from