Review: The Pigeon Comes to Topeka! A Mo Willems Exhibit



One of the most frequent questions I hear from parents who are working with young beginning readers is what books do we recommend. Many times early readers offer the Dolch Words on their pages, but the books lack plot and fail to hold interest. I believe that a love of reading is linked not only to actually reading the words, but also to enjoying what you're reading. Of all the early readers we've read in our home over the years (and that list is long with four children learning at home), Mo Willems is our hands-down favorite. The children's author and illustrator is a gifted talent who inspires children giving them a love of books. With titles like Books Bring Me Joy 

Long beloved for the Pigeon books, Knuffle Bunny, and Elephant & Piggie, Mo Willems knows kids. His books are simple and fun. The characters are entertaining and children enjoy learning to read along with these funny characters. My girls adore Gerald and Piggie and have even dressed up as these beloved characters for costume parties. 

As fans of the books, we were delighted to learn that The Pigeon Comes to Topeka! A Mo Willems Exhibit is at the Kansas Children's Discover Center (4400 SW 10th Ave, Topeka, KS. 785.783.8300) through January 4, 2019! This hands-on museum is a wonderful educational site for preschoolers and young children. With interactive exhibits encouraging imaginative play, the vibrant museum is a delight. We were sure that the exhibit, co-organized by Children's Museum of Pittsburgh and The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, would be outstanding as well. We were not disappointed.

Fans of the books enter The Pigeon Comes to Topeka! A Mo Willems Exhibit and feel as if they have walked right through the pages of the books where they get to play with their favorite characters. We give this hands-on exhibit a hearty two thumbs up. It is perfect for young children (ideal for preschoolers and early elementary).

The exhibit looks just like the pages of many of your favorite Mo Willems' books.

Children enjoy pretending to experience the same scenarios the characters experience in the stories.

The Laundromat is a favorite. Children push a button and the "washing machines" spin as kids play a game of I-Spy to discover favorite characters and props from the stories.

Kids choose a "Car" to drive through the exhibit:

Children turn dials and watch as the pages of the books "spin" creating "animation" as favorite Mo Willems' characters move right before your eyes.

The "Arcade" offers fun games inspired by the books:

Kids loved talking with these telephones which magically change their voices to sound like Gerald and Piggie.

Children can illustrate their own characters following video instructions from Mo himself, or using a light table. They may keep their artwork or display it in the museum gallery.

The Fashion Show lets children dress the Naked Mole Rat with felt outfits designing their own costumes. When they turn a crank, the conveyor belt allows models to "walk the runway."

A favorite part of the exhibit allows children to write Thank You notes (inspired by Elephant and Piggie's Thank You book):

Mo Willems fans will also find a variety of great products in the museum gift shops.

In addition to this special exhibit, the permanent exhibits at the Kansas Children's Discovery Center are perfect for little ones. Here are a few highlights:

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