What You Need to Know:|
• This is a brilliantly conceived new learn to read series by the author of the Pigeon books (Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus).
• Willem's deft illustrations, the way they convey exactly what the character is feeling without need for words, really, are nothing short of genius.
• The cover of this book, alone, gets me and my pre-schooler laughing and squealing, before we even start to read. I Will Surprise My Friend is still as suspenseful and exciting on the 50th read, as it is on the first.
• In a few short pages, with spare prose, Willems has created a suspenseful story that will have you and your young reader hooked from start to finish.
• Your young reader should be able to read it by themselves after only a few shared readings, the picture clues and vocabulary choice and repetition are that good.
• For all those pigeons fans out there, check out the endpapers (the inside, back cover of the books).
Sweet Series Background:|
I Will Surprise My Friend! is another wonderful addition in the new learn-to-read series by Mo Willems. Think of it in the same vein as a Dr. Seuss book, similar in size and feel, with a bit less text than the longer-winded Seuss books. In the Elephant and Piggie books, Willems effortlessly combines elements required for this learning to read genre, like word repetition and sight word inclusion, with comedy, terrific illustrations and a great story-line. The last is what makes this series so special. So many of the learn to read books are dreadfully boring, because it is hard to repeat words, keep the vocabulary simple, all the while creating a great story. Willems does it effortlessly with Piggie and Elephant.
The main characters are a little, optimisic pig and a rather pessimistic, droll elephant named Gerald. In I Will Surprise My Friend!, Elephant and Piggie decide to surprise each other after seeing their squirrel friends having so much fun playing the surprise game. After they set up the game, they each wait on either side of the rock to yell surprise, only they didnt' decide who would go first, so nobody goes. As the wait goes on, they each imagine what the other is doing, all the while the suspense level is climbing most enjoyably for you and your young reader.
While waiting, Elephant, who as mentioned is a bit world-weary and pessimistic, decides something horrible has happened to his dear Piggie. Meanwhile, innocent Piggie has decided Elephant must have gone for lunch, and boy is she hungry too. They both leap out at the same moment, and truly scare the wits out of each other. When I tell you my four year old howls at this point in the story, every time, I am not exaggerating!
2008, 64 pages
Friendship, Animals, Humor, Excellent Read-Aloud