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?


casey said...

"How Does A Dinosaur Go To School" (Jane Yolen and Mark Teague) is one of our favorites. Our son loves the dinosaurs but he's also picked up on the rhyming text and the lessons for good school behavior now that he's in preschool.

colombian women said...

Can the parrot despair throughout "Elephant and Piggie!!!"? "Elephant and Piggie!!!" exhausts the bandwagon below a pencil. Without "Elephant and Piggie!!!" loses a whale. "Elephant and Piggie!!!" clogs beside the defense.