Mo Willems is one of my favorite children’s writers. His latest book, Nanette’s Baguette is a song for the eyes and ears. While Mo earned his first big break as a writer and animator for Sesame Street, kids today most recognize him as the writer and illustrator of the Elephant and Piggie series as well as the Pigeon series. His books, by far, are the most requested early readers in my library.
The Elephant and Piggie series are excellent early readers. Each page features either a single word, short phrase, or single sentence. The pictures, although simplistic, complement the emotionally over-the-top antics of best friends Gerald (Elephant) and Piggie. A cast of other characters add to the hilarity through their own unique voices. Whether it is Snake who desperately want to play catch with Gerald and Piggie despite the fact that he has no arms or Whale who laments being too big to play anything, Gerald and Piggie’s friends are just as memorable as our two main characters. Your kids will laugh out loud at these remarkably humorous tales.
At the back of each Elephant and Piggie book another beloved Mo Willems character can be found hiding somewhere in the artwork of the end pages: The Pigeon. Originally created as a Christmas card sketch for clients, the pigeon took on a life of his own after Mo was encouraged to turn the character into a full-length story. Thus, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! was born. The Pigeon series breaks down the fourth wall as the pigeon speaks directly to the reader, usually asking for things he clearly is not supposed to have. My kids love the call and response format of the books.
In celebration of the final Elephant and Piggie book The Thank You Book, Mo Willem’s company created a website to recognize the legacy of the series. The following paperback puppet templates can be found there. My kids loved making the puppets and I’m sure yours will, too!