Best known for his characters of Knuffle Bunny, The Pigeon, and Elephant and Piggie, animator and children’s book author Mo Willems has created some classic series that have delighted and entertained kids for over ten years now.
My daughters ages 6 and 3.5 are HUGE Mo Willems fans, their current favorite being Elephant and Piggie, but always giggle at his other series as well.
This DVD combines fully animated versions of three of Mo Willems’ books (Don’t Let The Pidgeon Stay Up Late, Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion and Edwina, The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct) into one collection.
This is third story in Willems’ pigeon series and features every kids favorite stubborn and insistent pigeon as he humorously attempts to convince the viewers to let him stay up late, all the while looking more and more sleepy.
The final book in the Knuffle Bunny series, we follow Trixie and her parents on an overseas trip to visit her grandparents, but unfortunately she loses him along the way. Will she ever find him again? Can she live without her favorite buddy?
Edwina is a friendly cookie-baking dinosaur loved by everyone in town, except the know-it-all Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie, who thinks he must convince both Edwina and the rest of the townsfolk that Edwina shouldn’t exist because dinosaurs are extinct.
The presentation of the books in animated form is both engaging and enhances the source material, making them a familiar but whole new experience.
Mo Willems, himself, along with his wife Cher and daughter Trixie do most of the voices for the characters with friends filling in the other parts. For instance, in Don’t Let The Pidgeon Stay Up Late, there are some extra adlibbed parts as well as cameos and references to other characters (like Elephant and Piggie) and Mo Willems books that I don’t recall being in the original story. There is a hilarious bit during the credits about eating hot dogs at a hot dog party that had our whole family laughing.
Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion, starts out with the voices of a real-life Mo, Cher and Trixie arriving at an animation studio to narrate the book and then morphs into a fully animated story. The visual style is the same as that used in the book, with roughly drawn characters set against black and white photos. The animation allows Willems to expand portions of the story, with additional music and sequences that fill in the gaps between the still frames of the book. It is like you are drifting from frame to frame of the book. And in the end it transitions back to real-life and you get to see what Mo, Cher and Trixie look like in real life.
Finally Edwina, The Dinosaur had a catchy cookie tune that set the mood and the whole screen shook every time Edwinda moved, which my girls thought was silly. During the end credits you get to see Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie read his entire report on why dinosaurs are extinct—a funny segment that was not in the original book. There was also a great cooking-show style extra for this book in which Edwina teaches you how to bake her chocolate chip cookies, along with the help of her sous chef Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie.
All of the animated shorts feature an optional ‘Read-Along’ feature which displays highlighting text on the screen, allowing your child to read along with the book as the words are spoken.
The final extra was a fun kid-friendly interview with Mo Willems (my older daughter was captivated by this, the younger one lost interest), in which Willems talks about his process, mission and ‘the pigeon’ (who makes an appearance in every one of his books).
What’s Included on the DVD:
- “Don’t Let The Pidgeon Stay Up Late”
- “Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion”
- “Edwina, The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct”
- Video: 1.33:1
- Audio: English Dolby Digital 2.0
- Subtitles: (Read-Along Feature)
- Interview with Mo Willems
- Recipe for Edwina’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Read-Along highlighting caption track
- Scholastic Storybook Treasures Trailer
This collection offers up some beautifully voiced and animated versions of some of Mo Willems’ best love stories. Each story only runs about 10 minutes or so, making it a nice short DVD you can toss in for the kids just before bedtime. Willems has stated that the animated shorts in this collection were made to get kids interested in the picture books, and that is definitely the case in our home. Both these new cartoons and the original books are equally loved in our house and I’m sure they will be in yours as well.