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As is often the case in Elephant and Piggie's adventures, they start this one in bliss—happily planning to play catch. But then Snake shows up, and, boy, he'd like to play, too. Once again, Willems wrings maximum humour and melodrama out of spare pencil drawings and the simplest of setups. Snake, you see, is not like Elephant and Piggie—he has no arms—and this allows Willems to take on understanding differences, accepting shortcomings, and sticking up for friends. A minor entry into the series, perhaps, but a worthy one. Preschool-Grade 2. --Daniel Kraus
Number one New York Times best-selling author and illustrator Mo Willems has been awarded a Caldecott Honor on three occasions (for Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, and Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity). Other favorites include Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed and Big Frog Can't Fit In. Mo began his career on Sesame Street, where he garnered six Emmy Awards. #1 New York Times Bestselling author and illustrator Mo Willems has been awarded a Caldecott Honor on three occasions (for DON'T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS!, KNUFFLE BUNNY: A CAUTIONARY TALE, and KNUFFLE BUNNY TOO: A TALE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY) and his acclaimed Elephant and Piggie early reader series received the Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal in 2008 and 2009. He lives with his wife and daughter in Western Massachusetts.
The latest Elephant and Piggie book displays all the snappy pacing and wry humor readers have come to expect of the Geisel Medal winning series, with a valuable lesson in friendship and flexibility tucked inside. Gerald and Piggie decide to play catch, but when Snake slithers up asking to play too, they are a bit dubious. "You do not want to play with me?" Snake asks sadly. "No!" exclaims Gerald. "We do want to play with you. / But..." "We are playing catch," Piggie explains. "With our arms," Gerald elaborates. "So?" says Snake. This awkward moment resolves with the three friends trying to play catch, with predictable results ("BONK!"). More balls ("BONK! BONK! BONK! BONK!...") isn't the answer, but then Piggie has an idea (illustrated by a compact fluorescent light bulb) that provides the ideal solution. Page turns and placement of speech bubbles are customarily flawless, yielding multiple guffaws, but this story also provides much-needed guidance to kids who are navigating the etiquette minefield of friendship among peers of differing abilities. Brilliantly subtle and spot-on. Kirkus" This beginning reader focuses on differently abled animals as Elephant and Piggy get ready for a game of catch. Before they begin, Snake asks to join them. Simple gestures and facial expressions convey Elephant's embarrassment at Snake's inability to catch a ball. Piggy breaks the silence stating, "You don't have arms!" and Snake dejectedly slithers away. On the next page, Snake diffuses his rejection by saying, "Hee-hee! Ha-ha! Hee-hee! Ha-ha! Hee-hee! I know I do not have arms./I am a snake." Elephant asks, "But can a snake play catch?" The story moves from clever to cruel as Elephant throws the ball and hits Snake on the head, and the reptile's expressions indicate distress. Piggy follows suit, with the same result. Then Elephant decides, "Maybe we need more balls," and the next spread shows Elephant and Piggy bombarding Snake with balls, each one hitting him with a "BONK!" and Snake upside down in anguish. Then Piggy gets the idea to use Snake as the ball. Snake happily says, "Whee!" to which Piggy replies, "I love playing catch with my friends!" While all ends on a positive note, Jeanne Willis's Susan Laughs (Holt, 2000) and Grace Maccarone's The Gym Day Winner (Scholastic, 1996) offer more respectful treatments of inclusion. SLJ"