The Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems
Summaries and reviews
Today I Will Fly!Hyperion Books for Children, 2007. 57 pgs. Easy reader
Piggie insists that she is going to fly; Gerald insists that she is not. Determined to find a way, Piggie seeks out help and surprises Gerald with what she can do.
Ah, the last two pages of these books are always so funny!. The rest of the book is, too, but there's always a little some extra at the very end that makes these books extra awesome.
My Friend Is SadHyperion Books for Children, 2007. 57 pgs. Easy reader
Piggie notices that Gerald is sad, so she tries on various costumes--cowboy, clown, and robot--to cheer him up, but nothing seems to work.
This is one of my favorites of the series. Gerald is so cute as he's experiencing his sadness, and Piggie is so cute as she is trying to cheer him up.It's such a sweet story about friendship...and of course, has a little bit of humor thrown in.
I Am Invited to a Party!Hyperion Books for Children, 2007. 57 pgs. Easy reader
When Piggie gets invited to a party, she asks Gerald to go with her. Gerald, insisting he knows all about parties, tells her they must be ready--for a fancy party, or a pool party, or a costume party. Although Piggie is a little skeptical, she decides to trust her friend, since he's supposed to be the party expert.
So funny. I love it.
There Is a Bird on Your Head!Hyperion Books for Children, 2007. 57 pgs. Easy reader
Gerald is quite distraught when a bird lands on his head, and is joined by another bird...and the two of them proceed to make a nest, and lay eggs, and hatch babies! He's hysterical as Piggie is describing what's happening. Piggie finally suggests a solution, which ends up working well for Gerald, but not so well for Piggie.
This is the least realistic book of the series, since obviously birds couldn't build a nest, lay eggs, and hatch eggs all in such a short period of time, but it's still a funny look at problem solving and coming up with a solution rather than freaking out, so it's got the emotional truth even if the timing is a little warped :) (If Gerald could have seen how adorable the birds were,though, he would have let them stay!)
I Love My New Toy!Hyperion Books for Children, 2008. 57 pgs. Easy reader
Piggie has gotten a new toy and she loves it. When she lets Gerald have a turn playing with it, he breaks it and then she is sad and mad. and both friends begin to cry. When a squirrel points out that the toy is actually a snap and break toy, Gerald and Piggie realize that what is really important is friendship.
Good book, good message. I think this would be great for taking children through the emotions of dealing with possessions and friendship and conflict.
I Will Surprise My FriendHyperion Books for Children, 2008. 57 pgs. Easy reader
Piggie and Gerald decide to surprise each other by hiding on opposite sides of a rock and then peering out at each other--except they keep looking the wrong direction. Beginning to worry about each other, Gerald worries that Piggie has fallen off a cliff, been grabbed by a bird, or eaten by a monster, while Piggie thinks Gerald has gone off to get lunch. As Gerald sets off to save Piggie, and she sets off to find lunch, they finally manage to surprise each other.
This has the typical fun twist at the end that will have kids laughing.
Are You Ready to Play Outside?Hyperion Books for Children, 2008. 57 pgs. Easy reader
Gerald and Piggie have just begun to plan what fun they will have outside when it begins to ran. Piggie is quite unhappy with the rain and how it has ruined their day; Gerald provides coverage for Pigge with his ear, and that gesture helps Piggie to cheer up. Soon the two friends are enjoying the rain--just in time for the rain to stop. Piggie is unhappy once again, but Gerald comes to the rescue again.
This is a cute story about friendship. (Okay, they all are, but I just liked how Gerald tried to make his friend happy and cheer him up on a rainy.)
Watch Me Throw the Ball!Hyperion Books for Children, 2009. 57 pgs. Easy reader
When Piggie finds Gerald's ball, she wants to give it a toss. Gerald isn't convinced that Piggie will be able to throw it as far as he can, but Piggie wants to try. Her throw doesn't turn out quite as she expected, but she teaches Gerald a lesson in the process.
I didn't like this one as much as most of the other titles, maybe because we don't see that extra dose of sweetness between the two friends, but it's still a fun book, and it has a good message.
Elephants Cannot Dance!Hyperion Books for Children, 2009. 57 pgs. Easy reader
Piggie offers to teach Gerald to dance; he tells her elephants can't dance. She tells him he can still try, so he tries...and tries...and tries.
I love seeing Gerald's efforts and his frustrations and then finally a resolution that makes him feel better. It's a great message for kids--or even adults--that it's okay to have fun and not do things perfectly.
Pigs Make Me Sneeze!Hyperion Books for Children, 2009. 57 pgs. Easy reader
Gerald is quite upset when he can't stop sneezing, because he things perhaps his allergic to pigs, which is problematic since "Piggie is a pig!" and that means they can't be friends. Heartbroken, Gerald must leave his best friend behind...until Doctor Cat comes to the rescue.
I think kids will love seeing how Piggie keeps getting bowled over by Gerald's sneezes. This isn't my favorite of the Elephant and Piggie books, but it's still cute.
I Am Going!Hyperion Books for Children, 2010. 57 pgs. Easy reader
Gerald and Piggie are having a nice day together--until Piggie announces that she is going, which causes a case of hysteria in Gerald, who begs and pleads with his friend not to go.
So many cute illustrations, of course. I like when Gerald tries to persuade Piggie not to go until tomorrow, or next week, or next year, that he shows her a pig calender :) The small details like that, combined with the spot-on voice of someone who is overreacting, make this book a lot of fun for readers of all ages.
Can I Play Too?Hyperion Books for Children, 2010. 57 pgs.
Piggie and Gerald are just making plans to play catch when a snake asks if he can join in the fun. Piggie and Gerald don't know how a snake can play catch--since of course, he doesn't have arms--but they are determined to find a way. Just when it seems like none of their solutions will work, Piggie comes up with an idea of how they can all play catch.
Piggie's solution made me laugh out loud. I'm not sure it's a solution that would translate well to human children, but this would be a good book to use to discuss differences and acceptance--a good message wrapped up in all the normal sweetness and humor of the Elephant and Piggie books.
We Are in a Book!Hyperion Books for Children, 2010. 57 pgs. Easy reader
Gerald and Piggie notice that there is someone watching them--a reader in fact. They are so excited to be in a book, and even try to get the reader to say things out loud! But when they realize that the book is coming to an end, panic sets in.
Of course all of these books are great read-alouds, but I love how Willems invites the reader to be an active participant in the book here. I can just imagine kids giggling right along with Gerald and Piggie--and wanting to read the book again, and again, and again.
I Broke My TrunkHyperion Books for Children, 2011. 57 pgs. Easy reader
Gerald has broken his trunk, and Piggie wants to know why, so he starts to tell the story...which begins when Gerald thought it would be a good idea to balance Hippo on his trunk....
I love looking at Piggie's expressions in this book, which range from horrified at what Gerald decided to balance on his trunk to impatient as the story drags on. The unfolding of story is super cute and happens in such a child-like way, showing how one thing led to another and then having unexpected twist at the end.
Should I Share My Ice Cream?Hyperion Books for Children, 2011. 57 pgs. Easy reader
When Gerald gets an ice cream cone, he's super excited....until he begins to wonder if he should find Piggie and share. She is, after all, his best friend...but she's not there, and maybe she won't know, and...Gerald makes excuses until he pictures Piggie being sad somewhere, and then he's determined to use his ice cream to cheer her up, but by then, his ice cream has melted. Just as he's feeling down about blowing it, Piggie comes along with some ice cream of her own and saves the day.
Yet another great story about the complexity of friendship and how something that should be as simple as sharing can be easily justified away. Gerald's internal struggle is one that kids (and adults) will go through time and time again. Once again, I'm so impressed by how Willems captures human emotion so well using so few words.
Happy Pig Day!Hyperion Books for Children, 2011. 57 pgs. Easy reader
Piggie is ecstatic that it's Happy Pig Day--a great day for pig food, pig games, and all sorts of pig fun. However, when Piggie's pig friends show up, Gerald feels left out because he is not a pig. Luckily, Piggie can reassure her friend that Happy Pig Day is for everyone.
Is it silly how a 57 page children's book can touch my heart? I really liked the little twist at the end of this one as Piggie realized Gerald was feeling bad and gave him just the right information to let him know he was included? I just thought it was so sweet, and I love seeing these two characters care for each other.
I think it's cute how the inside back cover illustrations in these books have a guest appearance from our favorite pigeon.
Listen to My Trumpet!Hyperion Books for Children, 2012. 57 pgs. Easy reader
When Piggie gets a trumpet, she quickly invites Gerald to listen to her play...but her playing isn't exactly musical. Gerald doesn't want to hurt Piggie's feelings, but when she asks what he thinks of her trumpet, he faces a tough decision about what to say.
Aw, so cute. I know, I've way over-used the word cute in this post, but Gerald and Piggie ARE SO CUTE. I love their friendship, and the lessons we learn from them, and the little twists Willems always gives us.
Quick series list (in publication order):
Today I Will Fly!
My Friend Is Sad
I Am Invited to a Party!
There Is a Bird on Your Head!
I Love My New Toy!
I Will Surprise My Friend!
Are You Ready to Play Outside?
Watch Me Throw the Ball!
Elephants Cannot Dance!
Pigs Make Me Sneeze!
I Am Going!
Can I Play Too?
We Are in a Book!
I Broke My Trunk!
Should I Share My Ice Cream?
Happy Pig Day!
Listen to My Trumpet!
5 stars. What's not to love about them? Nothing. You must love everything, or clearly you have no heart or are broken in some way :)