Top 100 Picture Books #26: We Are in a Book by Mo Willems
#26 We Are in a Book by Mo Willems (2010)
Great to read aloud. This book has a lot of emotions- humor, sadness (especially when we near the end), etc. Brings the characters to life- and teaches about the “metaphysical” on a grade school level. – Gina Detate
After getting to know and love Gerald and Piggie through several books, having them address the reader, and making us say “banana” no less, was a stroke of genius. My kids and I have had tears of laughter rolling down our faces through many readings. And I can read this to preschoolers through 3rd graders with equal success. Love it. – Courtney Doyle
We’re big Mo Willems fans at our house, but I chose this as the one to include by him because my husband describes it as “a work of literary genius,” and he’s not really a children’s book aficionado. The layers of meaning in a book of so few words is pretty amazing, yet it still appeals to kids…ours love to yell “Banana!” and then laugh hysterically after reading it. – Libby Gorman
Bananas! – Martha Sherod
And they’re back! Yes, it was a big surprise to me that more than one Elephant & Piggie would make this list. Will there only be two or is a third in the work? You’ll just have to wait and see. Now as far as I can ascertain, We Are In a Book is considered by many to be the funniest Elephant & Piggie book made yet.
- It also got one of them thar Geisel Honors. Are you even surprised?
- Personally, I’m rather fond of the Slate article about this book called Elephant and Piggie Peer Into the Void: A tribute to the most existentially terrifying kids’ book ever written. Says David Plotz of it, “But there’s one literary depiction of mortality for kids so gripping and so terrifying that it has been haunting me—a fully grown man—since I read it. It is arguably the most disturbing book published in America since The Road.”
- Travis Jonker did his own toon review of it. Contains a nice use of “coincidental clouds”.
SLJ said of the book, “Beginning readers will grant Gerald’s request [to read the book again], while grown-ups will marvel at Willems’s extraordinary ability to animate his personality-packed gray and pink characters with the widest range of emotions, all drawn with the simplest of line.”
I liked how Booklist said that, “In their latest pairing, Elephant and Piggie are finally ready to get meta.”
The Horn Book Guide said, “Willems successfully and humorously deconstructs the concept of a book for the youngest readers.”
And Kirkus proved to be a big fan, saying “As always, Willems displays his customary control of both body language and pacing even as he challenges his readers to engage with his characters and the physicality of their book. The friends’ solution to the book’s imminent end? ‘Hello. Will you please read us again?’ You bet.”
It’s rare, but you can see Mo read the book here:
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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