Monday, October 31, 2011

Elephant and Piggie!!!

Any of you with children under the age of say 10, are no doubt familiar with Mo Willems' mischievous book character Pigeon, who made his debut in the hilarious book Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! in 2003.

Mo Willems
In a word, Pigeon is a sensation. He's the face of his creator's Twitter feed, made the news last week debuting his own app -- aptly named Don't Let the Pigeon Run this App!--, and manages to sneak himself into the many other books Willems has penned with different casts of characters. And, let me tell you, some of these other characters have quite a following too, much to Pigeon's dismay, and are just as much superstars as he.

Take Knuffle Bunny, for example. That bestseller has hit the stage as a touring musical!

There's Leonardo, the terrible monster; Edwina, the non-extinct dinosaur; Wilbur, the naked mole rat, and last but not least there's...


This adorable duo delights and entertains emerging and early readers in a series of books that are simple, but incredibly fun and engaging. Elephant and Piggie are best friends, though they have quite different personalities. Elephant is the shy, bashful and realistic of the two. Piggie is excitable, optimistic and genuinely happy.

What's important about their difference in personalities is that it provides the avenue for conflict and resolution within the stories. Elephant and Piggie face situations very differently, and come up with solutions very differently, but what is ultimately emphasized each time is their friendship and their goal of being happy and having fun together.

I can't say enough about how fantastic this series is. At 4 and 1/2, J loves these books and a coworker's grandson who is in the 3rd grade loves them just as much.

I can honestly (and excitedly!) say that I know they are going to play a big role in his learning to read. I'm sensing that he will learn to read this year. Just a couple days ago, he found one of the books that we haven't read yet and asked me what it was. I told him it was called I Am Invited to a Party! and he smiled and took it to the sofa where he began "reading" it. A few minutes later, he brought me the book and showed me a two-page spread on which Elephant and Piggie were jumping up and down, shouting "Party!", and J said, "Look Mom, they are saying party, party, party, party." He's using a combination of letter recognition and visual clues to help him read...books, signs, computer screens, etc. And these books are right on in terms of engaging him and giving him the confidence to keep making these attempts.

A few of our other favorites:

Watch Me Throw the Ball!

I Broke My Trunk!

Are You Ready to Play Outside?

I Love My New Toy!

and the newest installment, just out this month...

Happy Pig Day!

Willems also maintains a fantastic blog, as well as an interactive, riotous website for kids who can't get enough Pigeon, called Pigeon Presents!

If you aren't familiar, you've got to check it out. With just a click of the mouse, kids can help naked mole rat get dressed, watch Elephant and Piggie do a dance routine, or select delectable toppings for Pigeon's favorite food: hot dogs.

I hope you'll check out some of the links as well as some of the books if you aren't already familiar. What other suggestions do you have for early readers?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Fall into a Good Book

Fall is such a beautiful time and such a busy time. There are apples to pick, costumes to create, yummy foods to bake, and parties to attend.

For librarians and book lovers, it's also a great time for new books, especially new picture books!

So here I'll share some great books for the season. Some are old, some are new, and some are my family's favorites.

What's in the Witch's Kitchen? by Nick Sharratt Silly, gross lift-the-flap fun!

The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri Lovely illustrations and simple text for babies and toddlers, but interesting enough for preschoolers.

Leaves by David Ezra Stein This one is so sweet and captivates the innocence with which kids view the world. It received starred reviews from PW and Booklist when it was published in 2007.

Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf by Lois Ehlert The bright, classic and detailed illustrations in this book will inspire you to get outside and examine the leaves in your neighborhood or local park.

Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell If you plan on visiting a pumpkin patch or apple orchard this fall, read this one before you go. A great introduction to the idea of farms and harvests for little ones.

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat by Lucille Colandro Another silly Halloween-themed read.

I hope you get a chance to visit the library or bookstore in between enjoying the beautiful fall weather. If you read any of these, I hope you'll share what you think or share with us your favorite fall stories.