I have been a fan of Mo Willems for close to ten years. We are big fans of the public library, but Mo Willems is an author whose books are purchased as soon as they are released. My three girls are big fans of the Elephant and Piggie series, and were eagerly waiting for I Will Take A Nap.
As the title suggests, Gerald the persnickety elephant wants to take a nap- but he is interrupted by Piggie. Gerald explains that he needs a nap because he is cranky, and napping helps him feel better. Gerald snaps at Piggie (who was being a little obtuse), and she snips back that now SHE is cranky. Gerald and Piggie try to take a nap together, but Piggie’s snoring disrupts Gerald. Will the cranky elephant ever get his nap?
For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the series, there are some things that you should know. Elephant and Piggie books are easy readers. There is no prose; the characters communicate with each other via voice bubbles. The text is also very simple: “I am tired. And cranky. I will take a nap. I like to nap.” Each of those sentences appears on its own page, with Gerald spreading his blanket on the floor and preparing for his nap as he speaks. The simple text and the back-and-forth dialogue make the books great for reading out loud and acting out the story with an emerging reader.
It should also be noted that the illustrations are rather Spartan with Elephant and Piggie appearing against a plain white background. Willems scrimps on the background, but this allows him to focus on body language and facial expressions. Much of the comic relief in this story (as well as the others in the series) comes from the faces the characters (usually Gerald) are making. On a more personal note, two of my girls are on the autism spectrum, and the exaggerated facial expressions help them make the connection between what a character is saying and how it relates to their feelings.
I would absolutely recommend I Will Take a Nap. My three girls giggled and laughed throughout the story. There are over twenty books in the series, but they are all absolute gems and nothing feels stale or recycled. The girls were very excited to see Gerald clutching a stuffed Knuffle Bunny, another of Willems’ creations. This is a very funny book that children are sure to love!