My New Friend is So Fun! by Mo Willems
Oh, that Mo – he’s done it yet again. I have loved the Elephant & Piggie books since the very first one. Mo has nailed beginning readers from the start. Friendship is the biggest deal to young children who happen to be setting out to read. (This is followed closely by losing their first tooth in about 2nd grade.) But there are plenty of books about friendship so what makes E&P so good? I love the repetition that is done so unobtrusively and the absolute hilarity of the stories. Kids love to laugh! The books are so well written and so appealing in the apparent simplicity of the drawings. Kids go back to them time and time again. And it’s that practice that turns them into readers.
Teachers love the books because they like to laugh too. Wasn’t it Mary Poppins who said “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down?” So true in this case – kids want to read the books and reading them again and again is just what they need to do. With my classes of teacher candidates we always do Reader’s Theater with the books. I have two or three of each title (they really are inexpensive) and my students love it. So many have emailed me from their classrooms and talk about how successful it was with their kids. I love it. I will have to admit that I stole the idea from Mo himself who, along with Brian Selznick, performed one of the books at a conference. It was brilliant.
Jealousy rears its ugly head in this latest offering. Piggy is spending a lot of time with Brian Bat. Elephant and Brian’s best friend, Snake, begin to think they have lost their best friends. Won’t kids love this set up? I can’t tell you how it ends but all’s well that ends well. It’s perfect.
I spoke to Mo’s publisher, Stephanie Lurie, at BEA and I asked her how many he plans on making. Initially I thought that six was the goal. Now Mo has decided to do 25 and this is the 21st. I’ll hate it when he stops but completely understand that he needs and wants to go on to other things. What will he think of next?
According to Barnes&Noble.com, the next one is due in November and will be called Waiting Is Not Easy!