Caldecott Honor winning author and artist Mo Willems of Northampton, Massachusetts, isn’t necessarily a great drawer. What makes him one of the great children’s book creators today is his feel for character. Which is what you might expect from the Emmy winning former writer for “Sesame Street.”
“I don’t like the look of that title,” the Pigeon squawks at the start of Willems’s new picture book, “The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?” (Hyperion Books for Children). It’s a brief, witty tale about the cute little Duckling who gets a cookie because he politely asks for it and the jealous Pigeon, who never gets what he wants (see “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!” “Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!”). It’s all about the relationship between the two birds. Imagine them as siblings, or the Pigeon as a sort of young, sputtering Daffy Duck and the Duckling as a cool, suave Bugs Bunny type. “It’s NOT fair,” the Pigeon grumps. “Ducklings get everything!”
Ultimately it’s a witty primer on manners and sharing—the Duckling gives the Pigeon his cookie, and then politely asks for another. The punchline is that the cunning Duckling gave up the first cookie not simply out of generosity, but because he didn’t like the flavor.
Willems presents “The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?” at Coolidge Corner Theatre, 290 Harvard St., Brookline, Massachusetts, at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, April 1, 2012, as a program of Brookline Booksmith. Free, but tickets required.