Stalwart friends Piggie and Gerald the elephant push the metafictive envelope in a big way when they realize that "someone is looking at us." Is it a monster? worries Gerald. "No," replies the squinting Piggie. "It is... / a reader! / A reader is reading us!" How? wonders Gerald. Piggie drapes herself on a word bubble to demonstrate: "We are in a book!" "THAT IS SO COOL!" Joy leads to a little bit of clever practical joking-Piggie figures out how to make the readers say "banana" out loud, and hilarity ensues-which gives way to existential angst: "The book ends?!" exclaims an appalled Gerald. Emergent readers just beginning to grapple one-on-one with the rules of the printed codex will find the friends' antics both funny and provocative: Just who is in control here, anyway? As always, Willems displays his customary control of both body language and pacing even as he challenges his readers to engage with his characters and the physicality of their book. The friends' solution to the book's imminent end? "Hello. Will you please read us again?" You bet.—Kirkus
After several rousing adventures, it's probably about time that Elephant (aka Gerald) and Piggie start questioning the facts of their existence-namely, that they are characters in a book, and that books end. Not to worry-they don't get all the way to the crisis-y part of such a postmodern existential dilemma; instead, being Elephant and Piggie, they explore the mystery and wonder of having an audience. Though Gerald is freaked when he realizes someone is looking at them, Piggie fearlessly approaches the book's horizon to see who it is; she discovers not only that it's a reader but also that she and Gerald can make the reader say whatever they want just by putting the text in a speech bubble. Piggie's making a reader say "banana" is all that's needed to send the friends into paroxysms of gasping laughter, until Piggie points out that Gerald may want a turn before the book ends. Gerald once again panics, and Piggie once again gathers information and formulates an idea that will save them. As always, Willems' finger is firmly on the pulse of today's kids and their culture, as he plays with the joyful, performative aspects of seeking and sustaining attention, with Gerald particularly antic in his exuberant reactions to each new development. It's a good thing that Willems chooses to place his characters on flat white backgrounds and limit the color palette to their signal pink and grey, linking them to more muted shades of those colors in their speech bubbles, since the physical comedy of their actions would be too chaotic otherwise. Gerald and piggy are so delirious with the possibility of sly manipulation of their readers, not to mention so open with their need (Gerald's embodied hysteria over finding out that the book will end closes with the small fonted, droopy-postured plea "I just want to be read" that even the smallest culture-mulchers will know how to intone). That the readers will be happy to play along-heck, who ever needed a fourth wall anyway?—BCCB
Make room for another satisfying episode in the escapades of lovable Elephant (aka Gerald) and Piggie. This time the best buddies star in a witty metafictional romp replete with visual gags, such as Piggie hanging from a speech bubble and Elephant blocking the author's name on the title page. Willems revs up the fun when the friends realize that someone is watching. Who can it be? Cautious Gerald asks, "A monster?" while savvy Piggie answers, "No. It is...a reader! A reader is reading us!" Mirth ensues as the delightful creatures comprehend a newfound power: "If the reader reads out loud," they can make the reader say words. Piggie decides upon "Banana" and Gerald's sidesplitting laughter proves contagious for all involved. But, when Gerald learns that books end, with Piggie demonstrating by turning the bottom corner of the page to see how many are left, he shouts, "This book is going too fast! I have more to give!" Not to worry the ever-resourceful Piggie has Gerald ask, "Will you please read us again?" Beginning readers will grant Gerald's request, while grown-ups will marvel at Willems's extraordinary ability to animate his personality-packed gray and pink characters with the widest range of emotions, all drawn with the simplest of line.—SLJ
In their latest pairing, Elephant and Piggie are finally ready to get meta. Realizing that their trademark blank background is, in fact, a page, the duo has a blast convincing the reader to say funny things out loud-until Piggie mentions that the book will soon end. Cue Elephant's existential crisis: "WHEN WILL THE BOOK END!?!" From there on, it's a cute-but never too heady-play on the physical object that the reader is holding, including a bit where Piggie appears to flip the pages forward to get a sense of how much time they have left. Willems' satisfying (if self-serving) solution? Read it again!—Booklist
About the Author
Number one New York Times
best-selling author and illustrator Mo Willems
has been awarded a Caldecott Honor on three occasions (for Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
, and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity
). Other favorites include Big Frog Can't Fit In: A Pop-Out Book
and City Dog, Country Frog
illustrated by Jon J Muth. His acclaimed Elephant & Piggie early reader series received the Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal in 2008 and 2009. For more information, visit www.pigeonpresents.com.
#1 New York Times
Bestselling author and illustrator Mo Willems
has been awarded a Caldecott Honor on three occasions (for DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS!, KNUFFLE BUNNY: A CAUTIONARY TALE, and KNUFFLE BUNNY TOO: A TALE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY) and his acclaimed Elephant and Piggie early reader series received the Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal in 2008 and 2009. He lives with his wife and daughter in Western Massachusetts. For more information, visit www.pigeonpresents.com.