September Book Salute: Elephant & Piggie Series by Mo Willems

4 Sep

I had fully intended to salute adult nonfiction this month, but the time I typically dedicate to grown-up reading before shutting off the lights has been taken over by House Hunters International. I’m making a halfhearted commitment to change this routine, but I sincerely vow to read a worthwhile piece of adult literature to share with you all by next month.

The good news is I have an amazing new children’s book series to salute. Well, it’s not exactly new, but it is new to me. And while I may be somewhat late to the party, I’m sure glad I’m here! The Elephant & Piggie Series by Mo Willems is everything I look for and LOVE in children’s books – clever storylines, endearing characters, and a focus on social and emotional topics. Each Elephant & Piggie story is brilliantly layered, giving parents and children something to think about and talk about while enjoying the clever humor.

Now it may be true that I’m often accused of having the sense of humor of a 3 ½ year old, but I know in this case I’m not the only adult to think these books are hilarious.  That being said, my real-life 3 ½ year-old is currently favoring Should I Share My Ice Cream?

image credit: Pigeon Presents! at http://www.mowillems.com

In this story Gerald (aka Elephant) faces a self-inflicted dilemma of whether or not to share his ice cream cone with his best friend Piggie. After quite a bit of anguished decision making, he resolves to share his “awesome, yummy, sweet, super, great, tasty, nice, cool ice cream,” only to find that it has melted. Devastated to be unable to share with Piggie, Gerald becomes equally distraught to realize he no longer has any ice cream himself. But as luck would have it, Piggie shows up with an ice cream cone of her own to share with her best buddy. I love how this book encourages empathy yet shows the many different feelings (positive and negative) and motivations that go along with sharing. And as a parent who has – on more than one occasion – asked children to take shoes out of their mouths, the implication of friends licking from the same ice cream cone didn’t scare me one bit.

I love all the focus on friendship, empathy and pro social behavior in these books! The other wonderful thing about this series is how fabulous the vocabulary is for beginning readers. And it just so happens that I also have a 5 ½ year-old beginning reader of my own at home who has become particularly drawn to Listen to My Trumpet!

image credit: Pigeon Presents! at http://www.mowillems.com

In this story Piggie solicits an honest opinion from Gerald in response to her (difficult to listen to) trumpet playing. Desperate not to hurt Piggie’s feelings, Gerald is eventually coaxed into admitting he didn’t think it was very good music. This revelation surprises Piggie, but not because it hurts her feelings – she wasn’t trying to make music…she was trying to speak elephant. In the end a relieved Gerald helps Piggie work on her “accent,” and beginning readers have an opportunity to practice sounding out consonant blends and short vowel sound in the form of fun, nonsense words –
Gr-ICK! Bl-AP! Fr-IP! Br-IP! Vr-IP!

As a person who typically judges a book by its cover, I’m so glad I had a friend turn me on to this fabulous series – thanks Rachel L! I’m so grateful Elephant and Piggie are now in my repertoire. They have become a fast favorite in my house, and I’m feeling quite certain they will make it onto the greatest hits list of anyone under age 6 (or over age 16)!

To see all the titles from this series click here.

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4 Responses to “September Book Salute: Elephant & Piggie Series by Mo Willems”

  1. Danielle Migler September 12, 2012 at 11:42 am #

    I am currently doing a Mo Willems author study with my elementary class. They LOVE Elephant and Piggie. We read “I Will Surprise My Friend” today, and “My Friend is Sad” yesterday. I love reading them to my students, too. I work at a Deaf school, and Gerald’s tendency to react very strongly provides me a chance to really get into character. We love Mo!!

    • Hillary Manaster September 12, 2012 at 4:27 pm #

      I love Mo too! I’m going to have to check out those two titles with my little ones next!

  2. Mama Mo September 12, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    I absolutely LOVE Piggie and Elephant! I’ve used the books in my elementary classrooms, and I use them now in my preschool class. I also read them to my 2.5 year old twins, who happen to love punctuation. We make noises to go with each form of punctuation, and the Elephant and Piggie books have so many exclamations and question marks! My favorite– as in I laughed long and loud– is We Are In A Book. It’s reminiscent of a childhood favorite of mine (There is a Monster at the End of This Book) but pure Piggie and Elephant.

    • Hillary Manaster September 12, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

      “We Are In A Book” had me laughing out loud too! Piggie and Elephant books are by far and away the best children’s books I’ve come across in a long time.

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