Mo Willems began his career writing and animating for Sesame Street. Since publishing his first book (no doubt to be reviewed at a later date!) in 2003, he has gone from strength to strength. According to his blog, he has so far received “3 Caldecott Honors, 2 Geisel Medals, a Geisel Honor, 2 Carnegie Medals, 6 Emmys, and multiple bubble gum cards.” You can read about Mo at http://mowillemsdoodles.blogspot.com/
When you start a book with the concept of a handbag-carrying dinosaur in a hat named Edwina who bakes chocolate chip cookies and helps little old ladies to cross the road, you are already on to a Good Thing. Everybody in the neighbourhood loves Edwina, everyone except Reginal von Hoobie Doobie. Reginald, who to be fair is probably still smarting from the pain of coping with that name, is one of those pedantic intellectual types who can’t see the wood for the trees. As far as he is concerned, dinosaurs are extinct and Edwina has no right to be there, particularly when she inadvertantly interrupts his report on ‘Things that are extinct: specifically, dinosaurs’, with an impromptu milk and cookies session. (It is slightly galling that the teacher not only fails to reprimand the children for interrupting Reginald during his report but is actually a ring-leader in the classroom exodus that follows, but we’ll let that slide.) So Reginald decides to make people aware that Edwina is a scientific impossibility, under the apprehension that if everyone knows she is extinct, she will suffer some kind of existential crisis and “Poof! Edwina will disappear.” His frustrated efforts to get people to take notice of him are pretty funny – especially the flyers he hands out, which are by the facing page turned into hats by the oblivious locals.
In the end, it is Edwina who listens. And, finally allowed to express himself to someone who is not running out of the room to eat cookies, Reginald relents.
This is a snappily written story with plenty of off-the-wall humour, great illustrations and a fabulous vocabulary. “He was persuasive, he was expressive, he was loud… He was very convincing.” Reginald is redeemed by his willingness to accept Edwina’s existence, and we realise that even the very intelligent need someone to listen to them sometimes.