My first encounter with Mo Willems was in his beloved Pigeon Series. For the most part, I found the book funny and interactive. The Elephant and Piggie series came to my attention via the other women behind Gathering Books (Fats and Myra) and it has in many ways left me dumbfounded in its simplicity and impact.
Communicating complex ideas to children has always been difficult. It requires a true understanding of a child’s mind (and heart), and I think Mo Willems know children. I Love My New Toy! Is an exceptionally simple book that allows children to recognize themselves in the characters of Gerald the Elephant and Piggie, especially in the course of play.
Toys are an integral part of a person’s childhood. Toys bind children and are a point of interaction among them. As part of children’s socialization process, adults watch them as they interact with toys and other kids. Would they share the toy? Would they figure out its use? Would they argue over a toy? And yes, we watch fragile friendships begin and end because of a toy. With simple language, Willems portrays this interaction as Gerald and Piggie learn how to use Piggie’s new toy.
The conflict is clearly stated with Piggie’s expression of being mad and sad, and Gerald’s guilt is expressed with a sincere apology. Having worked with kids for the past year, I find the characters of this lovely series so accurate in its depiction of a child’s emotions. And I think the wonder of this book is it challenges children to think of an alternative resolution to a problem. It teaches children an ideal that is hard to communicate unless one is adept in communicating to children.
Now, I know why Myra and Fats love to collect the Elephant and Piggie series. I actually prefer this over the pigeon series. Lol.
Winner of the 2009 Cybils Easy Reader Award
AWB Reading Challenge Update: 2 of 35
I-I love my New Toy
A-Z Reading Challenge Update: 3 of 26 (I, L, T)
Read-A Latte Challenge Update: 6 of 150
Read 1 Book in a series (Series: an Elephant and Piggie Book)