BooksGuest Posting

Trio of Mo Willems Books – Shelly’s 1st Impressions

My three-year-old daughter was very excited to dive into these new books.

We Are Growing CoverFirst up was “We Are Growing,” by Mo Willems & Laurie Keller.   There is a series of books by author Mo Willems that are based around his two characters, “Elephant & Piggie.” I was not familiar with these characters or their stories, so I was definitely not ready for how the stories are told in a comic strip form. My first read through the book was so awkward! Luckily, my daughter is very forgiving and I think she was concentrating on the drawings more than my awkward reading.

It’s a story based on eight friends; seven blades of grass and one dandelion. As the first one sprouts some growth all the other friends are in awe of his talent until they themselves begin to grow. Each is assigned a superlative based on how they growing (Tallest, Curliest, etc.). Well, everyone except Walt. Walt isn’t able to figure out what his strong suit is until after they receive a haircut by the lawn mower.

While I’m not a huge fan of the “comic strip bubble” style of writing, my daughter and four-year-old niece LOVE this story! It has been on request for both nap-time and bed time reading since we received the book a week ago. It requires a bit of work on the readers part to make each character seem different in their small lines, but I have come to enjoy the book as well.

The Thank You Book - CoverContinuing with the Elephant and Piggie books, the next one we read was “The Thank You Book,” by Mo Willems. I had high hopes for this one based off the title because most of my daily routine revolves around reminding my daughter about polite manners. However, this book just did not click well with us.

Piggie is feeling extremely grateful and wants to write a thank-you note to everyone who is important to him. Elephant Gerald is convinced that Piggie is going to forget someone and (spoiler alert) he almost does!

When reading for the first time I kept waiting for the meat of the story, or a lesson to be taught. At first I had no idea what Piggie was even thankful for, but I liked that it was a reminder that there is always, always, always something to be thankful for. Then we got to the end of the story and it was the Reader that Piggie had forgotten to thank. I was more than confused because there really was not much to the story.

Well then it came time to write these thoughts so I looked up “Elephant and Piggie” on Google. Turns out that this was Mo Willems 25th and final story with these two characters. Talk about an “Ah-ha” moment. Now the book makes sense. If I had been more familiar with Mo or his beloved characters prior to this book then I am sure we would have enjoyed it more. Despite the special thank you card at the end of the book, my daughter has not requested this one again though.

Nanette's Baguett - CoverMo Willems has been very busy since ending the Elephant and Piggie series! He has written and illustrated a completely different story entitled “Nanette’s Baguette.” The pictures in this story are so unique. You need to look at them real closely because there are more dimensions to them than you see at initial glance. I tried to figure out myself what it was and before I had to think too hard I read the inside back cover: “The images in this story are comprised of photographed handcrafted cardboard-and-paper constructions digitally integrated with photographed illustrations and additions.” I could not have described it better myself.

I am a huge sucker for stories that rhyme; I just love to read them in a sing-song fashion. This story really gave me a run for my rhyming money though!

It is the first time Nanette’s let to get the baguette. Nanette is a girl after my own heart though and could not resist trying a bite of the warm, wonderfully smelling baguette. She returns home in a fret because despite buying the baguette she did not return home with any baguette. Here is the part I really liked though; when her mom questions where the baguette is, Nanette, in a sweat of fret, tells the truth! The whole truth! Mom does not chastise but instead insists on a reset of the day.

This story lined up perfectly with another lesson we are in the early stages of teaching our daughter; it is always better to tell the truth. When we were done reading the story she and I were discussing the details and it was really neat to see her face light up when she connected the dots on truth telling being a positive choice. That is one lesson I hope to set and not let her forget so I do not have to forever fret in a sweat.


Shelly is a native Southern Californian who resides in Orange County with her husband and three year old daughter. She is rediscovering Disney through the eyes of her daughter.

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