NEW YORK — Children's author and illustrator Mo Willems sees creativity as part of a grownup's job.
"Having a child is an opportunity to be silly again," says Willems, who has been named the Kennedy Center's first ever "Education Artist-In-Residence."
"I think parents forget that they are cool and if they want the next generation to be creative then they have to be that way, too."
On Friday, the Washington, D.C.-based
Known for such acclaimed picture stories as "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!" and "Knuffle Bunny," Willems has a long history with the Kennedy Center. He has helped stage theatrical adaptations there of "Knuffle Bunny" and his "Elephant & Piggie" series and is working on a musical production of "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!" that will premiere at the Kennedy Center at the end of the year.
"We knew that if we found the right partner — someone who appeals to children and adults, and someone who could help us push creative boundaries — we'd increase the ways that family and student audiences engage with the Center," she said. "In Mo, the Kennedy Center has found the voice of a generation — actually, several generations."
Willems, during a recent telephone interview with The Associated Press, said his work at the
For his residency, he envisions multimedia projects for young and old, bringing in artists from other fields such as singer-songwriter Ben Folds and jazz pianist Jason Moran.
He said he has completed a couple of books, "banked" them in advance, so he can "concentrate on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be terrified and to learn.
"I really don't know how all of this stuff is going to end up, and that's exciting."
The Associated Press