Contacts: Macey Morales / Jennifer Petersen

ALA Media Relations


For Immediate Release

January 26, 2009

Mo Willems wins Geisel Award for “Are You Ready to Play Outside?”

DENVER – Author and illustrator Mo Willems is the 2009 recipient of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for “Are You Ready to Play Outside?” published by Hyperion Books for Children
, an imprint of Disney Book Group. This is the second year in a row that “An Elephant & Piggie Book” has been honored. The award was announced by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), today during the ALA Midwinter Meeting held Jan. 23 – 28, in Denver.

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 award is named for the world-renowned children’s author, Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss. Award winners are recognized for their literary and artistic achievements that demonstrate creativity and imagination to engage children in reading. Award and honor book recipients will receive their awards in Chicago during the ALA Annual Conference in July.

Mo Willems, who has received several honors from ALA, including the Caldecott Honor, the Carnegie Medal and the Geisel Award, has captured our attention again with “Are You Ready to Play Outside?”

Willems has created a masterpiece for beginning readers that is simply told through the use of dialogue, which melds perfectly with uncluttered pink and grey cartoon-style illustrations. Aside from the friendship theme that appears throughout Willems’ work, he continues to create astonishing emotional depth using the simplest of facial expressions on his characters. “Are You Ready to Play Outside?”tracks Piggie’s changing feelings about rainy weather and Gerald’s heroic efforts to help her grapple with her disappointments in a satisfying story arc.

“Mo Willems’ easily approachable text, captured in dialogue balloons and bold, expressive drawing of friends Piggie and Gerald experiencing the ups and downs of a rainy day, deliver laughter and love of story to beginning readers,” said Geisel Award Committee Chair Joan Atkinson.

Four Geisel Honor Books were named:

“Chicken said, ‘Cluck!’” by Judyann Ackerman Grant, illustrated by Sue Truesdell and published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers.

Earl and Pearl shoo Chicken away as they work on their pumpkin patch, but as the story comes full circle, it’s Chicken who does the shooing and saves the day. In the traditional yet fresh easy reader “Chicken said, ‘Cluck!,’” even very new readers can understand the simple, symmetrical text together with the funny and endearing pictures that capture every emotion of the two young gardeners and the sometimes annoying Chicken.

“One Boy,” written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, a Neal Porter Book published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership.

“One Boy” is an eye-catching picture book leading readers to discover words within words through a distinctive die-cut design and clean, bold illustrations. A surprise conclusion satisfyingly completes this unique tale of one boy’s artistic visions.

“Stinky” written and illustrated by Eleanor Davis and published by Raw Junior/Toon Books.

Stinky, the swamp monster, is at first determined to rid his beloved “muddy, slimy, smelly swamp” of Nick, only to realize that this dreaded “kid” is not the appallingly clean intruder he supposes him to be, but a new friend. Brimming with humor, the innovative comic-format illustrations, design and easy-to-read text will engage and delight new readers.

“Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator” by Sarah C. Campbell, photographs by Sarah C. Campbell and Richard P. Campbell and published by Boyds Mills Press.

An exciting nonfiction look at the carnivorous wolfsnail trapping and devouring its victim, this science book uses bold block type against a white background to enhance the ease of reading. The magnified, detailed photographs and playful, informative text will amaze and attract readers.

The members of the 2009 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Committee are: Chair Joan Atkinson, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa; Krista Britton, Old Bridge Elementary School, Woodbridge, Va.; Heather Daugherty, Long Beach (Calif.) Public Library; Ada Kent, Ohio School for the Deaf, Columbus; Megan Lambert, The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Amherst, Mass.; Susan Dove Lempke, Niles (Ill.) Public Library District; and Maryann Owen, Racine (Wis.) Public Library.

ALSC is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children. With a network of more than 4,200 children’s and youth librarians, literature experts, publishers and educational faculty, ALSC is committed to creating a better future for children through libraries. To learn more about ALSC, visit their Web site at

For more information on the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award and other ALA literary awards, please visit