Author Judith St. George Dies, Mo Willems Sketchbooks

StGeorgeAuthor Judith St. George Dies: Author Judith St. George has died at age 84 at her home in Bloomfield, CT. Her many books included So You Want to Be President?, which earned illustrator David Small the Caldecott Medal. She specialized in both fiction and nonfiction that focused on U.S. history.

Professional Reading:  Willems, Mo. Don’t Pigeonhole Me! Two Decades of Don't Pigeonholethe Mo Willems Sketchbook. Disney, 2013. 280p. $40. 978-142314436-6.

Although he may be best known for his books that began with Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Mo Willems should not be pigeon-holed as a writer solely for young people. This compilation shows his adept touch as a cartoonist for adults, with humor that includes asides to politics, sex, marriage, and other topics. Adults who are fans of Willems will enjoy this compilation of sketchbooks that began as mini-portfolios to obtain work. Most of the things included in the early chapters are one-panel cartoons, similar to what you would see in New Yorker magazine. These were also published by Erzatz, a humor magazine. This led to Willems’ career in animation and later as an award-winning writer and illustrator of books for children.

Each chapter begins with a brief introduction on what was going on in Willems’ life at the time of that sketchbook. Also, each chapter has a different colored background which helps to keep them separate. The large size and book design makes this perfect for the coffee table.

Some of the sketchbooks later evolved into picture books for children, featuring the pigeon character, or Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. Because the sketchbooks are arranged chronologically, they show his evolution as an artist. The first books are mainly skilled ink cartoon drawings, but later works show him using shading, watercolors, crayons, and other media.

One thing that is consistent is Willems’ clear sense of humor, which has a wide appeal. Some cartoons are purely visual, while others rely on a caption or dialogue for the joke. Although some cartoons will have child appeal, there are nudes and adult jokes that are not appropriate for young readers; this is fine for teens. It would make a great gift for fans of the San Francisco Cartoon Art Museum.

Penny Peck,  SJSU iSchool

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