#TCRWP 89th Reunion: Mo Willem’s Keynote

This is part 2 of my “series” about my learning at the 89th #TCRWP Saturday reunion. (You can read part 1 here.)

Lucy reminded us that these free days are a gift from the project. .  . a veritable treasure!


And the keynote by Mo Willems was truly a treasure!

To set the stage, here is a shot of Mo literally “mugging for the camera” as he posed before beginning his speech.

Mo Willems

I have five or six photos on my phone camera but I was already laughing so much that I really didn’t get them focused well. Suffice it to say, “If you have a chance to hear Mo Willems in person, DO it!  He’s such an engaging speaker!”

“How to Write in 4 Easy Steps, 4 Kinda Harder Steps, and 1 Pretty Much Impossible Step

“If you are documenting, then you are not experiencing.”

“Teachers , Librarians – raise your hands – want you to feel it!”

Mo talked a bit.  Then, “Keep your hands up.”  He talked a bit more.  “Keep your hands up.”

As adults, when do you REALLY raise your hand to talk?

How does it feel to have your hand up for a REALLY long time and NOT be called on?

Key Points:

  • Be succinct don’t overdo a point. If you have 1 thing to say – just say it once. More is not better. Short. Sweet.
  • Avoid repeating yourself. Repeating yourself is a waste of time. Avoiding repetition is really, really, really, really, really    very important!
  • Try to ensure that every sentence is laser focused on a laser point.
  • Write about what you are passionate about or whatever
  • Are ? more compelling than answers
  • You may own the copyright, but the Audience owns the meaning.

“When you write, the book is meant to be read a billion times so make sure it’s incomprehensible. Make sure the drawings and words are so incomprehensible that they only stand when we put them together. My job is to write incomprehensible books for the illiterate. 49% of the story is me.  I want to ‘Think OF my audience not FOR my audience!’  No one wants relationship with me – want it with my characters . . . That means the page feels like ink is wet. . . FRESH!”

His stories were amazing.

Check out:  Sheep and the Big City

News:  one more book in the Elephant and Piggy series

“Influenced by looking at best books – what’s missing?”

Favorite book – Go, Dog, Go!

I’m influenced by my questions:  “Frog and Toad – They had unbelievable emotional lives. Which one is Frog? Which one is Toad? I can’t tell. I’m not a biologist! I can tell the difference between an elephant and a pig.”

“Millions of teens dying from embarrassment.  Childhood is a terrible time.  Every door, chair, utensil is built for someone else.  Ask permission to urinate. Just think about it!”

“A book is there – child’s friend, built to their size, sometimes only friend!”

“Unread book is a broken book!”

“Show – reading it is not the experience – it’s about when the student goes home and reads it.”

“Lead character in my book – lines are so simple that a reasonable 5 year old can draw it.”

And then Mo taught us all how to draw the pigeon!  Because, “If you tell a kid a drawing is important and then you don’t draw – the kid knows you are lying!”

And then Mo ended with a story about the power of poetry.  A poem about “not stealing the towels” . . . (so he stole the sign) . . . and believes that on his return there will be a ditty about not stealing the sign.

Entertained, exhilarated, and ready to embrace experiencing new learning!

What will you remember from this blog post?


Bonus #1


A picture of his nine main points


2 responses

  1. […] This is part 2 of my "series" about my learning at the 89th #TCRWP Saturday reunion. (You can read part 1 here.) Lucy reminded us that these free days are a gift from the project. . . a veritable treasure! And the keynote by Mo Willems was truly a treasure! To set the stage, here…  […]

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