By Kristine Sorensen

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Mo Willems is one of the most popular children’s book authors and illustrators and now, his books come to life in a new exhibit at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.

He has many award-winning books, and you’ll find the characters from the books come to life in the exhibit he helped create with the Children’s Museum.

The entire exhibit was designed and built in Pittsburgh and the prototypes were tested by kids.

“We bring these ideas out on the floor in simple versions of them and test out the ideas and work out all the kinks,” exhibit designer Anne Fullenkamp said.

Fullenkamp is the director of design for the exhibit and worked directly with Willems.

“As we were inspired by him to create activities based on his books, he came here and we worked remotely talking with him every week, he was inspired by us,” Fullenkamp said.

Willems even created new artwork specifically for this exhibit, like the drawings for a praxinoscope.

Fullenkamp learned that the book “Knuffle Bunny” is actually semi-autobiographical. Willems’ own daughter lost her stuffed animal at the laundromat.

“I didn’t know that was a true story. And I think that’s part of the humor and appeal of books is that they’re true and things that parents and kids can really relate to,” Fullenkamp said.

Visitors can also follow Willems’ steps for illustrating his characters — starting with doodling, then tracing on a light board, then free form.

Willems wants parents to get involved too, whether it’s reading to their children, watching the new animated movie he created for the exhibit, stacking cartoon boxes, or flinging hot dogs at the pigeon and duck.

The exhibit is open until Sept. 2.

Kristine Sorensen