Thursday, February 26, 2009

Giggles Galore: Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie series

I had the best moment yesterday: a room full of preschoolers fell into giggles as they were listening to the story I Am Invited to a Party!. Children love to laugh and they do so in such an infectious way - soon the whole room was bursting into laughter. The Elephant and Piggie series hooks this love, and reels the kids in with simple text and hilarious range of emotions shown in the two characters.
I am invited to a party! by Mo Willems.
New York : Hyperion Books for Children, c2007.
ages 4 - 6
I Am Invited to a Party tells the story of Piggie's utter joy at receiving an invitation to a party, and then her apprehension when she isn't sure what she should wear to her party. Her best friend Gerald the elephant comes to the rescue, expertly advising her that parties are fancy affairs. But they are also swim parties. And costume parties, too! Kids will love the way that Elephant and Piggie dance, shouting "Party! Party!" They will relate to the emotions that Piggie goes through. And they will laugh, and laugh and laugh. All the time, learning to read - hooray!

Are you ready to play outside? by Mo Willems.
New York : Hyperion Books for Children, c2008.
ages 4 - 6

Are You Ready to Play Outside? is the newest Elephant and Piggie book and it is also hilarious. The two friends are so excited about playing outside together - they are going to do EVERYTHING! Run, jump, skip! But then it starts raining and Piggie is irate - "HOW CAN ANYONE PLAY OUTSIDE WITH ALL THIS RAIN!?!" Kids will relate to the huge range of emotions that the two friends go through, and laugh out loud at the ups and downs. This book won the 2009 Geisel Award (in honor of Dr. Seuss) for the book that best engages and helps beginning readers. The American Library Association wrote, "Willems has created a masterpiece for beginning readers that is simply told through the use of dialogue, which melds perfectly with uncluttered pink and grey cartoon-style illustrations. Aside from the friendship theme that appears throughout Willems’ work, he continues to create astonishing emotional depth using the simplest of facial expressions on his characters."

Find all of Mo Willem's books at the Oakland Public Library or the Berkeley Public Library. But these books are worth buying if you have a young reader. My guess is you and your child will read them over and over and over.... so head over to Amazon or your local bookstore.

Finally, for the grownups - take a look at Mo's video on You Tube where he explains how he gets to know the characters in his stories.

This review is covered under Creative License with attribution. Copywrite 2009 Mary Ann Scheuer.


  1. How fun. Did you get a book signed? its hard not to smile when reading this series.

  2. Oops, I may have misled you. I was doing the reading! It was still lots of fun!! But one day I'd love to meet Mo Willems and hear him read his books. His video is very funny.