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Mo Willems
Mo Willems.jpg
Born: February 11, 1968 (age 54)
Des Plaines, Illinois, United States
Occupations: Author, illustrator, animator, voice actor
Years active: 1990-present
Spouse: Cheryl Camp (1997-present)


Maurice Charles "Mo" Willems is an American author. He created The Off-Beats, an animation segment featured on the first two seasons of the Nickelodeon animated sketch comedy series KaBlam!, and a half-hour special episode related to Valentine's Day that aired by itself on the network.

Raised in New Orleans as the only son of Dutch immigrants, Willems attended Trinity Episcopal School and Isidore Newman School. He then studied at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, notably making what he considered to be his first "watchable" short film, The Man Who Yelled, featuring simple caricatures, minimal graphics and bright colors similar to United Productions of America cartoons in the 1950s. Graduating from NYU in 1990, Willems then spent a year traveling around the world drawing a cartoon every day (these were later published in his 2006 book You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When it Monsoons). He would then work as a writer and animator on Sesame Street, earning six Emmy Awards. Willems went to Cartoon Network in 2000 to create Sheep in the Big City and after it was canceled in 2002, he stayed at the network to be head writer for the first four seasons of Codename: Kids Next Door, created by Tom Warburton (who directed on the second season of Sheep). Willems then departed the show to pursue a writing career.

Three of Willems' books have been awarded a Caldecott Honor: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (2004), Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale (2005) and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity (2008). He also created the Elephant and Piggie early reader series, those books won the Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal in 2008 and 2009, and Geisel Honors in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015. In 2010, Willems introduced a new series of books featuring Cat the Cat, also aimed at early readers.

Willems' books have been translated into a number of languages, spawned animated short films that have twice been awarded the Carnegie Medal (Knuffle Bunny, 2007, and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, 2010), and developed into theatrical musical productions. Illustrations, wire sculpture, and carved ceramics of his have been exhibited in galleries and museums across the nation, and he made several appearances on NPR's All Things Considered as the show's "radio cartoonist" in 2008. In 2019, Willems was named the Kennedy Center's first education artist-in-residence and during the following year as the COVID-19 pandemic began, the Center sponsored a series of virtual lunch doodles with him as a way of keeping children entertained.

Willems is married to Cheryl Camp, a former production manager for television advertisements, but now helps him run his business. They reside in Northampton, Massachusetts, and have one son, Trix Willems.

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