Mo Willems wins Geisel Award for “There Is a Bird on Your Head!”

Contacts: Macey Morales/Jennifer Petersen
ALA Media Relations
For Immediate Release,
January 14, 2008

Mo Willems wins Geisel Award for “There Is a Bird on Your Head!”

PHILADELPHIA - Author and illustrator Mo Willems is the 2008 winner of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the book “There Is a Bird on Your Head!” The award announcement was made during the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia, January 11-16.

In this humorous account of Elephant Gerald and Piggie's ongoing friendship, Gerald learns that there is something worse than having a bird on your head - having two birds on your head! Trying to help her friend, the always-playful Piggie ends up with a problem of her own.

Willems' balanced design of color-coordinated speech bubbles, expressive cartoon art and familiar vocabulary create an engaging, laugh-out-loud experience for young readers. The charming characters, whimsical tone and accessible language come together in this fresh and memorable celebration of friendship.

“There Is a Bird on Your Head!” is published by Hyperion.

“In a book that is both contemporary and universal, Willems captures the hearts of readers while inspiring young children to embrace the joy of independent reading,” said Committee Chair Cindy Woodruff.

Four Geisel Honor Books were named: “First the Egg” written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger and published by Roaring Brook / Neal Porter; “Hello, Bumblebee Bat” written by Darrin Lunde, illustrated by Patricia J. Wynne and published by Charlesbridge; “Jazz Baby” written by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie and published by Harcourt, Inc.; and “Vulture View,” written by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Steve Jenkins and published by Holt.

Simple words and paintings create a jewel-like package in a stylish yet unpretentious book in “First the Egg,” inviting the new reader in again and again. Lush, textured paint combined with die cuts in a trim size just right for deep thinkers, introduces the age-old chicken-and-egg riddle for the youngest reader.

Nine questions and answers introduce the world's smallest bat in “Hello, Bumblebee Bat,” an informational book for emerging readers. Straightforward text pops out of a sparse background allowing this little mammal to describe its habitat and characteristics in an intriguing and accessible way.

Bebop rhyme and repeated stanzas are just the right rhythm for young readers in “Jazz Baby,” a nostalgic celebration of dancing, singing and playing music. New words are effortlessly repeated as they bounce into the text and become part of the joyful gouache paintings that swing high and low with the movement of one lucky baby at the center of this loving family.

In “Vulture View,” rhyming lyrical text, juxtaposed with dramatic textured collage come together in an innovative combination of science and poetry for new readers. Spare text placed on vivid backgrounds introduces new readers to a day in the life of turkey vultures.

The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award is given to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year. The winner(s), recognized for literary and artistic achievements that demonstrate creativity and imagination to engage children in reading, receives a medal. Honor Book authors and illustrators receive certificates, which are presented at the ALA Annual Conference. The award is administered by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the ALA.

The members of the 2008 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Committee are: Chair Cindy Woodruff, Gilman School, Baltimore; Kristine Casper, Huntington Public Library, E. Setauket, N.Y.; Lesley Colabucci, Millersville University, Lancaster, Pa.; Heidi M. Daniel, Houston Public Library; Rose Dawson, Alexandria Library, Va.; James Irwin, Nichols Library, Naperville, Ill.; and Robin Smith, Ensworth School, Nashville, Tenn.