Laurie Keller wins Geisel Award for 'We Are Growing! A Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! Book'

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/23/2017


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations


ATLANTA – Author Laurie Keller is the 2017 recipient of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for “We Are Growing! A Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! Book” published by Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group. The award was announced today by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), during the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibition held Jan. 20 - 24, in Atlanta, Georgia.

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 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 Orlando, Florida, during the ALA Annual Conference in June.

With an endorsement from Elephant and Piggie, early readers will delight in following the hilarious and zany growth spurts of seven blades of grass. As the green blades talk (and posture) about their unique identities, they are interrupted by a menacing purple lawnmower.

Expressive facial features distinguish each blade and add to character development in a fresh way. The use of onomatopoeia, word play, speech bubbles, and creative manipulation of font size combine to offer beginning readers an engaging experience. 

"The committee appreciated the originality, pitch perfect humor, and natural sounding repetition that are ideal for the intended audience," said Geisel Award Committee Chair Shilo Halfen. "Who knew that watching grass grow could be so much fun?"

Laurie Keller is an award-winning author and illustrator who has created many children's books, including Arnie the Doughnut, a New York Times Book Review Notable Book. Laurie graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design and lives in Michigan.

Four Geisel Honor Book(s) were named:

Good Night Owl, written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli and published by Disney-Hyperion, an imprint of  Disney Book Group.

As owl is going to sleep, he is repeatedly interrupted by a "squeek". Determined to find its source, Owl tears apart his house from cupboard to floorboard to roof.

Greg Pizzoli's first picture book, Watermelon Seed won the 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award. He received his MFA from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and he currently lives in Philadelphia.

Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run! An Alphabet Caper, written and illustrated by Mike Twohy and published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

A mouse. A dog. And a ball.  This clever romp carries beginning readers on an epic chase using common and decodable words and strong illustrative cues to move the action forward.

Mike Twohy has been a regular contributor to the New Yorker magazine for over three decades. He lives in Berkeley, California, with a yellow Lab who loves to play ball.

Go Otto Go!, written and illustrated by David Milgrim and published by Simon Spotlight, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division.

Using just twenty different words, readers encounter an engaging robot adventure with surprising emotional complexity. Milgrim masterfully expands this extremely simple text through humorous, energetic illustrations.

David Milgrim is the author and illustrator of over twenty-five books including the New York Times bestseller Good Night iPad and the Adventures of Otto series. He lives in western Massachusetts with his wife and teenage son.

The Infamous Ratsos, written by Kara LaReau, illustrated by Matt Myers, and published by Candlewick Press.

Two city dwelling rat brothers set out to prove just how tough they are. Yet their every attempt to cause havoc has unintended – and positive – outcomes. More experienced beginning readers will find delightful misadventures told with accessible text, varied sentence structure, and black and white highly humorous illustrations.

Kara LaReau was born and raised in Connecticut. She received her Masters in Fine Arts in Writing, Literature and Publishing from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, and later worked as an editor at Candlewick Press and Scholastic Press. She currently lives in Providence, Rhode Island with her husband, their son, and their cat.

Matt Myers is the illustrator of E-I-E-I-O: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm with a Little Help from a Hen by Judy Sierra, and Bartholomew Biddle and the Very Big Wind by Gary Ross, as well as many other books for young readers. Matt lives and works in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The members of the 2017 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Committee are Chair Shilo Halfen, Chicago Public Library; Patty Carleton, Saint Louis Public Library; Miriam Gerald Martinez, University Of Texas at San Antonio; Kathleen Neil, Enoch Pratt Free Library,
Baltimore; Susannah Richards, Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, Conn.; Madeline Walton-Hadlock, Sacramento (Calif.) Public Library; and Judy Zuckerman, Brooklyn (N.Y.) 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 4,000 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 website at


For more information on the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit