Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Willems (Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!) introduces two best friends in the paper-over-board Elephant & Piggie books: a naysaying gray bespectacled pachyderm and an optimistic pink porker, whose opposing temperaments serve as the bases for sparring and mutual understanding alike. When Piggie declares, Today I Will Fly!, Elephant responds, in Green Eggs and Ham fashion: You will not fly today./ You will not fly tomorrow./ .../ You will never fly! I will try! Piggie asserts. She gets assistance from a mock-ferocious bulldog, whose barking does help her to jump (but not fly), and an amiable pelican who demonstrates how friends can lend a hand (er, wing). Energetic Piggie dons a series of costumes (cowboy, clown, robot) to boost sulky Elephant's spirits in My Friend Is Sad. Elephant does not cheer up until Piggie shows up sans disguise: I saw a cowboy!... But you were not there to see him! Elephant laments. I need my friends! You need new glasses.... Piggie whispers in an aside to readers, ending on a sly note. Willems treats each page (or spread) as one panel, so the action unfolds briskly against white backgrounds. He provides the emphatic dialogue in varying font sizes and keeps the design details simple but effective: Piggie's words appear in powdery rose-colored voice bubbles, Elephant's in pale blue-gray. Nevertheless, even inexperienced readers will not be busy long, whether or not they pause to chuckle at the dueling characters' changing facial expressions. Compared to Willems's more nuanced character studies, these episodes feel all too brief. Still, readers will likely clamor for more. Ages 4-8. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
K-Gr 3-In these two easy-to-read books, Willems introduces two best friends. Gerald is a slightly stodgy, bespectacled elephant with a stumpy, downturned trunk. Piggie is more daring and whimsical, and, like many friends, the two complement one another. In My Friend Is Sad, Piggie tries hard to cheer her dejected friend. She disguises herself as a cowboy, clown, and a robot, but Gerald doesn't recognize her and is sad because she isn't there to enjoy the fun. Without missing a beat, Piggie points out that he needs new glasses. In Today I Will Fly, Piggie announces her intention to do so to her skeptical pal. In the end, though, Gerald is making adventurous plans of his own. With just a few tweaks of his expressive lines, Willems creates engaging characters. The stories move briskly, with a minimal word count and touches of whimsy throughout. Fans of the author's previous books should check the endpapers for a cameo appearance of his familiar pigeon. These simple, humorous stories will sound just the right note for beginning readers.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Graphic-novel influences have reached into most areas of children's book publishing; here, they crop up in a classic genre--the friendship-duo easy reader--and chalk up yet another success for two-time Caldecott Honor winner Willems. The basic approach is familiar from Willems' previous books, especially Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (2003). It's as if each page were one frame of a comic strip: characters zip in and out of white space, proffer speech-bubble remarks, and express emotion through spot-on body language. In My Friend Is Sad, upbeat, outgoing Piggie cavorts to cheer up depressed Elephant, whose doldrums are obvious from his furrowed brow and drooping, stovepipelike trunk. Not having recognized his costumed pal, the myopic elephant remains sad because Piggie missed out on the fun. Accessible, appealing, and full of authentic emotions about what makes friendships tick, this will put a contemporary shine on easy-reader collections and give Willems' many fans--whatever their age or reading level--two more characters to love. (Vying for their affections is that irrepressible pigeon, who, still utterly in character, finds his way onto the endpapers.) --Jennifer Mattson Copyright 2007 Booklist
Horn Book Review
(Preschool, Primary) In this new beginning reader series, Mo Willems adds two characters to his repertoire: gloomy elephant Gerald and his upbeat best friend, Piggie. Each book combines an easy-to-follow story; helpful, uncluttered illustrations on white backgrounds; and spare speech-balloon text with lots of useful repetition. The plots are simple but not simplistic: Willems respects his audience's ability to grasp subtlety and tone from his expressively lined pictures and dramatically timed page turns. In My Friend Is Sad, Piggie dresses up in various costumes to try to lift her pal's spirits, but Gerald (not recognizing his friend) isn't cheered by the cowboy, clown, and robot that parade past him. When Piggie gives up and appears without a costume, Gerald is finally happy: ""I am happy because you are here!"" In Today I Will Fly!, Piggie's titular announcement is summarily dismissed by Gerald -- ""YOU WILL NEVER FLY!"" -- but Piggie doesn't let Gerald's negativity ground her. Gerald continues to be a wet blanket (""Yes, it was a big jump. But you did not fly"") until Piggie's various attempts eventually pay off...thanks to the help of a friendly pelican. Piggie's success then inspires the nay-saying elephant: ""Tomorrow I will fly!"" Willems conveys volumes with an expertly placed eyebrow or down-turned mouth, giving new readers valuable experience interpreting context clues in illustrations and even through varying type sizes; and the color-coded speech balloons suggest shared-reading opportunities for pals of any age or disposition. Copryight 2007 of The Horn Book, Inc. All rights reserved. (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
The master of offbeat whimsy for picture-book readers ventures into the early reader with typically silly and successful results. Willems introduces two friends, Gerald the Elephant and Piggie, who, in the tradition of early-reader partners, love each other despite (or perhaps because of) their gentle foibles. In My Friend Is Sad, Piggie observes a disconsolate Elephant and dresses up as a cowboy, a clown and a robot only to find that all Elephant really wants is her company. The companion title, Today I Will Fly (ISBN: 1-4231-0295-9), highlights Piggie's determination to fly, her enthusiasm for the task undaunted by physiological reality and Elephant's skepticism. Uncluttered pages feature the two main characters against clean white space, highlighting the artist's characteristic command of body language; the text is entirely comprised of dialogue, rendered in softly colored word balloons (pink for Piggie, gray for Elephant). Beginning readers will delight in these genuinely funny stories, staying one step ahead of the increasingly frantic Elephant, who does not recognize his friend in costume, and rooting for Piggie's aeronautic success. The masterful combination of early-reader convention and sly wit make this pair of pals one to celebrate. (Easy reader. 4-8) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.