I read all the Elephant & Piggie books!
The Elephant & Piggie series was devised by creator Mo Willems. Willems began his career writing and working in animation for Sesame Street that earned him six Emmy awards. He then went on to write for other animated series until he began a successful picture book author career. His creation known by most is Pigeon, a gregarious, outspoken and hilarious bird who demands to drive a bus, to stay up late, to have a puppy and more.
Known mainly for his picture books, Elephant & Piggie, a beginning readers series, marked a bit of a departure for Willems, however, they are just as funny and successful (three of the books in this series won Theodor Seuss Geisel Awards). The same off-beat and wacky sense of humor seen in his work on Sesame Street and various animated series is all over Elephant & Piggie.
The series appears simple – two characters, cautious Gerald, the elephant and carefree Piggie, the pig engage in conversation, often leading to a problem. The two must work together solve whatever dilemma is in front of them leading to a hilarious punch-line at the end of the book. The two are a model for friendship—they care about each other and help each other out, whatever the situation.
Heavily influenced by graphic novels, Elephant & Piggie features minimal text, only dialogue in word balloons. Willems plays with the word balloons and changes their shape, size and style to give readers clues on how things are being said. Characters zip on and off the page and even acknowledge the reader in one of my personal favourites in the series.
I spoke with a couple teacher friends of mine who all rave about this series and its versatility in the classroom including:
- Helps children with sight or high frequency words
- Demonstrates skills in problem solving, predicting and inferring
- Provides children with text awareness with the series’ use of symbols and rebuses
- Allows readers a better understanding of characters
Full of charm and laughs, this series is great for both reluctant and newly independent readers.