While he still hasn’t been given the green light to drive the bus, the Pigeon just might get the chance to take a wilder ride—if the title of his latest caper can be trusted. Union Square Kids announced today that Mo Willems’s fine-feathered fan favorite will venture on in The Pigeon Will Ride the Roller Coaster!, scheduled for September. The acquisition is part of a five-book deal for U.S., Canadian, and U.K. rights, negotiated by Marcia Wernick of Wernick & Pratt Agency, on behalf of Willems and Emily Meehan for Union Square & Co.
The Pigeon Will Ride the Roller Coaster! is the eighth picture book in Willems’s Pigeon chronicles, which has sold more than six million copies in North America, has been translated into 20 languages, and has inspired theatrical productions, museum exhibits, and television specials. The literary laurels for the bestselling author-illustrator, who is also an animator, a playwright, and the inaugural Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence, include two Theodor Seuss Geisel Awards and five Geisel Honors (for the Elephant & Piggie series) and three Caldecott Honors (for Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity.
Across the board, Willems’s new publishing team is offering him—and his defiant Pigeon—a warm welcome. “I am a longtime admirer of Mo Willems and his ability to connect so directly with children and families,” said James Daunt, CEO of Barnes & Noble, which owns Union Square & Co. (a subsidiary of Sterling Publishing). “As a publisher, we look forward to providing Mo with as broad a platform as possible to share his creativity. And as a bookseller, what a delight to be able to handsell a new Pigeon picture book this fall.”
Emily Meehan, chief creative officer and publisher of Union Square & Co., echoed Daunt’s enthusiasm, adding, “We are proud and thrilled to bring the singular creative genius of Mo Willems to our list. Partnering with Mo reinforces our strategic vision as a dynamic trade publisher that focuses on the importance of editorial and artistic talent.”
And Willems’s longtime editor, Tracey Keevan, editorial director of Union Square Kids and former executive editor at Disney-Hyperion, praised Willems’ gift for knowing and appreciating kids. “Mo has a phenomenal ability to speak to his audience through his work,” she noted. “He gives voice and validation to the ups and downs of being a kid in a world built for grown-ups. It’s an honor to publish new books with Mo that continue to celebrate the lives of young readers.”
Much like his outspoken Pigeon, Willems managed to seize the last word. “I am excited to embark on new publishing experiments while working with a team I’ve known and trusted for over a decade,” he said. “The goal is to surprise and delight without losing sight of a fundamental truth: The Pigeon is not going to get to drive that bus.”
The Pigeon Will Ride the Roller Coaster! by Mo Willems. Union Square Kids, $17.99 Sept. ISBN 978-1-4549-4686-1