Cybils nominees: Easy Readers.
Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems. Nominated by Sarah at Page in Training.
I Broke My Trunk by Mo Willems. Nominated by Becky of Becky’s Reviews and Young Readers.
Happy Pig Day! by Mo Willems. Nominated by Danielle Smith at There’s a Book.
What is there to say about Mo Willems and his easy reader creations, Elephant and Piggie? The books are deceptively simple, a long comic strip in book form. However, this form is not so simple to conceive, write, and illustrate well. I’ve seen attempts by other authors fall flat. Mr. Willems has the gift or the genius or the 99% perspiration or something.
In Should I Share My Ice Cream?, Gerald Elephant obsesses over whether or not to share his ice cream with his friend Piggie, until the issue becomes moot when the ice cream cone falls splat on the ground. Of all the elephants in children’s literature, Gerald is the Charlie Browniest. But unlike good old Charlie Brown, Elephant has a friend in Piggie, and in this story Piggie saves the day.
The story of how I Broke My Trunk begins with Elephant and a bandaged trunk. Of course, Piggie (and readers) want to know how Elephant broke his trunk, but hold on, because it’s a long crazy story. Suffice it to say that “two hippos, one rhino, and a piano on your trunk are very, very heavy,” and very, very funny. But that’s not even the whole story.
Happy Pig Day! Is it just for pigs, or can Gerald Elephant celebrate Pig Day, too? Again, I am reminded of what Charlie Brown could have been if he had had even one faithful friend. (Peppermint Patty doesn’t count. She couldn’t even get his name right, and she was undependable.)
The exciting thing about these books is that beginning readers of all ages can enjoy them over and over again. My fourth/fifth grader whose reading skills and interest leave a lot to be desired loves Elephant and Piggie. She reads the books to herself, reads them to her dad, reads them again to herself, and chuckles softly. Then she tells me to read them or else she reads them to me. Elephant and Piggie and other books like them are what the Sunday comics were to another generation. How many adults can say they learned to love reading and stories from their reading of the comic strips on Sunday mornings?
*These books are nominated for a Cybils Award, and I am a judge for the first round thereof. However, no one paid me any money, and nobody knows which books will get to be finalists or which ones will get the awards. In other words, this review reflects my opinion and Z-baby’s and nothing else.