- Posted by Johanna on July 20, 2014 at 9:29 am
- Category: Books and Prose
- CREDITS: by Mo Willems
- PUBLISHER: Hyperion Books for Children; $8.99 US
I love Elephant and Piggie! I was introduced to their charms thanks to my adorable niece. She loves being read to (and I love encouraging a love of books). The unfortunate part of this process is that an enjoyable book will be requested to be read over and over again. Mo Willems’ Elephant & Piggie books are the best ones for this, because they only get more fun after the first read.
Elephant and Piggie are two best friends. They are the animals they’re named, and they exist in a world of plain white pages, with no backgrounds or settings. That makes them both more universal and allow the reader to focus on Willems’ terrific illustrations. Elephant and Piggie are always either acting or reacting in exaggerated fashion, but in a way that makes their feelings easy for a young reader to understand.
Piggie is outgoing and optimistic, while Elephant is more cautious and concerned, making for a good match and a diverse range of reactions. Together they deal with questions of friendship, whether simple (My Friend Is Sad) or more complex (Should I Share My Ice Cream?). They face challenges (as when Elephant fears that Pigs Make Me Sneeze!) and the struggles of non-shared interests (Elephants Cannot Dance!) and even metaphysical discoveries (We Are in a Book!). Sometimes they just try new activities, as in Let’s Go for a Drive!. In my reading with my niece, that one turned into a sing-along, as Elephant and Piggie share their joy at a prospective car trip by singing.
I was impressed by the topics tackled in the latest book, My New Friend Is So Fun!, which are jealousy and fear of abandonment. Piggie has met a new friend, Brian Bat, and they are playing together. Bat’s friend Snake and Elephant are afraid that Bat and Piggie will have too much fun together, so much fun that they don’t need Snake and Elephant.
One of the other characteristics of the Elephant & Piggie books is that the characters aren’t afraid to yell, as in this page where Elephant is scared and Snake is thrown for a loop (literally).
The large text is easy to read, and the drama allows for read-alouds to feature acting! (said in the Jon Lovitz voice, for those of you old enough to remember). There is no description, only conversation in these tales, so practice voices. Once you’ve finished this one, there are a lot more to enjoy! (The publisher provided a review copy.)