BOOK REVIEWS

We Are in a Book! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) Reviews

UPDATE TIME: 2019-09-05 
Review Score: 4 out of 5 star From 0 user ratings
ISBN:1423133080
LANGUAGE: English

" Kathryn laughed out loud so I'd consider it a success! " said.

" - I love all of the elephant & piggie books because they have thoughtful lessons that anyone can benefit from, aha moments that have the potential to radically alter your point of view - in this one elephant & piggie know that they are being read and how they interact with the reader is simply marvelous, insightful and clever. - as always their facial expressions are so exact and funny you will see yourself in them. " said.

" Because I love the Pigeon series, I checked out some the Elephant & Piggie books as well. Aimed at a slightly younger audience, the Elephant series is more, er, benign. Occasionally, it comes off a bit preachy ("We are all going to be good, okay?" ^_^ tone), but this one is fun. It works as a smart joke, and reminds me of The Monster at the End of this Book. " said.

" The kids loved this one. It's cute. It is rare to find a book that is written at a level they can read on their own which doesn't strike them as boring and childish. This book reminded me a lot of one I read as a kid, a Sesame Street book in which Grover thought there was a monster at the end of the book. The link is that the characters in the book directly address or acknowledge the reader. It is a gimmick that never gets old! :) " said.

" It's cute, but I was expecting a different direction for the ending. " said.

" Pig and Elephant think that somebody is looking at them and realize that somebody is reading them. They mess around and don’t want it to end. " said.

" This book was pretty good, but it could use more variety of the type of sentences. It just used independence sentences and had a lot of repetition. " said.

"So, reading this book for the Children's Lit. course I'm teaching was my first introduction to Mo Willems' books. I love this story because it's so smart.

First of all, on the first page (not the title page, but the first actual numbered page of the book), we get Piggie looking at the reader and winking. Then, the story moves forward with Gerald realizing that someone is watching him and Piggie. Piggie seems to have anxiety over the issue as well, but she assures Gerald that it's okay. They're just being read. The person looking at them is a reader, and they are in a book! They make the reader do things like read aloud and say the word "banana" because it's funny, and they roll over laughing. But then, Gerald's anxiety returns as he realizes that the book will end. Piggie looks ahead and tells him the last page number, and Gerald starts counting down. But then, Piggie comes up with an idea and whispers to Gerald. In the end, the two ask us, the readers, to read the book again, so they can continue their story.

I love this concept. It's metafiction for children. It's ironic and sarcastic and funny. But, as my students noted, it also teaches us a lot about friendship. The first page indicates that Piggie already knows about the reader, but she doesn't make Gerald feel bad when he worries. She pretends not to know either, and she comes up with solutions to resolve his anxiety. She stays calm while he panics, and this reveals a great friendship dynamic of balance and kindness, along with patience.

My students and I talked about Gerald's anxiety as well. If children reading this book alone or with parents have felt like Gerald, they have a character to whom they can relate. If they know an anxious sibling or classmate, they can learn tolerance and understanding from Piggie. They can learn, as my students pointed out, not to bully others who have a difficult time learning or dealing with emotions. Also, the book is great as a learning tool for new readers. There are simple dialogue and illustrations. There are repetition and humor to attract young children.

I also really like Willems. In a NYT article we read, the author discusses Willems' dealings with failure as a child and how it was important for him never to give up, no matter what. He worked really hard to achieve success in his field. He fought against people who didn't think his books had enough meaning and impact for children readers. This concept of failure comes into play in this book because Gerald doesn't want the book to end--he wants to keep enjoying it, not to disappear. He even says, "I have more to give!" when he realizes the book is ending. The book deals with endings of all kinds, really, but also with the human desire to be heard, to have a voice, and not to feel lost in the shuffle because other things are more important or because one event, phase, or era has to end.

This book seriously impresses me. I could talk even more about the metafiction and its intertextuality with postmodern novels and even more about the characters and their friendship (Willems said that, since they're an elephant and a pig, it's "basically a friendship between an African and a European"), and Willems himself--his conception of children as complex beings, capable of complex emotions and understanding subtleties--but this review is long enough already!

tl;dnr: I highly recommend this book to children of all ages!
" said.

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