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Elephant and Piggie

June 22, 2021

"And what is the use of books," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?" (Chapter 1 "Down the Rabbit Hole"). When I was a child I strongly identified with Alice-in-Wonderland's opinion of books – there had to be plenty of pictures, preferably in color, and conversations.

I tend to rate children's picture books by those two standards, so it was a surprise when I discovered the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems. Quite frankly, I found the drawings to be off-putting because they lacked a variety of colors, but the conversations were plainly illustrated with cartoon style "balloons" over the characters.

As I read the conversations I wondered, "what's going to be the outcome?" If ever a book was a page turner, each one met the criteria; I couldn't wait to turn the page to learn what would happen next. During story times a room full of wiggly preschoolers and their caregivers alike were captivated by the surprising yet gentle humor and the solutions to real life situations that Elephant and Piggie encountered. These dilemmas mirror those that children often encounter.

I hope you and your family will take the time to enjoy the Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal award-winning author's series of Elephant and Piggie – two very different friends who find ways to deal with their feelings and work through problems. There are 24 books in this reader series which are perfect for emergent readers. Some of my favorite are listed below.

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Donna Reagan has served as Children's Specialist at the Bellevue Branch Library since 2002. She produces My Storytime Place, a local TV show for young children. The ALA's Every Child Ready to Read initiative forms the foundation of her early childhood programming.