Mo Willems became a quarantine hero with his live videos teaching kids to doodle.
A year later, the children's author and illustrator is preparing for a one-year anniversary "Lunch Doodle with Mo Willems" on March 15 — and introducing kids to a new kind of art.
Willems' next book, "Opposites Abstract," which goes on sale October 19, is a departure from his gut-busting classics like "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus," "Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale," and the Elephant and Piggie series. It was inspired by his work as education artist-in-residence at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C.
"I love museums: art museums, cultural museums, portrait museums, museums of science and industry, museums of musical instruments, sculpture museums, single room museums, sprawling museums, outside museums, even Paris’ weirdly wonderful sewer museum!" Willems told TODAY Parents.
With "Opposites Abstract," Willems colorfully illustrates concepts like dark and light and hard and soft. He hopes this different kind of art will inspire kids.
"Hopefully, they will see the joy I had making these paintings and that will spark them to express themselves abstractly. We all get the exact same colors and shapes to play with; what makes us unique is how we combine them.”
Willems recently gave Hoda & Jenna a quick doodle lesson and shared mind-blowing facts like how to pronounce Knuffle. We asked Willems to share his favorite museums for introducing kids to art:
"A giant interactive collection of permanent and temporary exhibitions all focused on learning, fun, and discovery."
This museum for the appreciation of picture book illustrations "includes a lovely, staffed art studio where the youngest patrons can create their own masterpieces."
This contemporary art museum features galleries "focused on two favorite artist of mine, conceptualist Sol LeWitt and the light environments of James Turrell. Don’t miss the room where you get to bang on all kinds of percussion instruments from around the world!"
Willems has been a regular of the Met for decades, and says he still discovers amazing things, "including my recent exploration of Imaginary Patrons in some of their galleries."
Any Museum You Go To!
"Art changes the room you are in. It makes you stop, look, listen, and think about something," Willems said. "You are also a work of art. You change a room when you enter it. Think of how fun it will be to see how art changes you and you change it!"