Top positive review
I really love Elephant and Piggie
Reviewed in the United States on May 15, 2010
Early readers can be such a pain. They have to be easy to read, so they include a lot of very short, repetitititive sentences. I bet you can quote Dick and Jane here: See Spot. See Spot run. Run, Spot, run! Run, run, run! Short, easy to read, lots of practice with those three words... and boring as HECK. Who wants to read that more than once?
Or they do the same thing, but with rhyming: See the cat. The cat is fat. The fat cat sat. Sat on the mat. The fat cat sat on the mat. See the rat!
Ye gods. Now your kid will always be able to read -at words, but they'll read them all in a dreadful monotone, ill-suited for anything other than the phone book. Gotta indoctrinate them young to think reading is dull and boring!
Well, there is hope. Elephant and Piggie! This series does everything right.
First of all, the text is all dialog. Exciting, funny dialog with LOTS AND LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!! Ever see a first grader write? EVERY! SENTENCE! NEEDS! AN! EXCLAMATION! POINT!!!! YES IT DOES! You can't help but ham it up when you read, no matter HOW much you hate reading.
And when there is repetition - as there needs to be, to help children practice - it's natural. Piggie will say something, and then Elephant will repeat it in a disbelieving way. Or Elephant will say something and Piggie will repeat it to agree with him. Elephant: You need help. Piggie: You are right. I do need help.
Secondly, the pictures are active and engaging and funny and dramatic. Not much distracting detail, either. But while the pictures are so active and engaging and funny and dramatic, they provide a LITTLE bit of help to the shaky reader... but not so much that they think they can look at the picture and not bother with those troublesome words.
Thirdly, the books are just interesting. When you're learning something now, you have to do it more than once. It's good for kids to re-read the same books over and over again... and I'm sure it saves the teacher money on stocking her classroom shelves! But what child, honestly, wants to read a beginning reader again? It's boring! They read it once, are you happy? Now they want to get to the good stuff!
I promise you, kids will want to read these books over and over again. I don't know through educational experience, no... but I know through watching my own two nieces. I know through looking at adults eagerly picking up these books to read. Adults! There's just something about them.
Mo Willems has the magic touch, I'll tell you that.