Reading Rockets recommends the following books by Mo Willems.
It all started with one musician becoming inspired by another’s music. After all, music changes the listener, provides inspiration, and more…just because. This fresh saga of how music has stretched over centuries to inspire a new composer begins with Beethoven and ends with the now-grown child who was inspired. A number of people are included in the “score”, effectively portrayed in the illustrations that “perform” it.
Can I Play Too?
Snake asks to play catch with elephant and Piggie but gets beaned by the ball as he has no arms with which to catch it. The friends come up with a creative solution for them all to play catch. Cartoon illustrations are as clear as the speech bubbles in this funny addition to the series.
City Dog, Country Frog
On his first day in the country, City Dog not only runs off-leash but befriends a frog. Dog and frog play through summer and remember their fun in autumn, but frog leaves in winter. Life's cyclical nature is shown in dramatic watercolors and frank text for a moving tale.
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
Pigeon desperately wants to drive the bus, but continued requests are turned down, he becomes increasingly frustrated and irritated. Crisp illustrations and simple typeface tell a story that may be all too familiar! Young children and parents alike will relate to the theme of this Caldecott Honor book.
Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!
Readers take over for the bus driver, who cautions them not to let the pigeon stay up late. But as in other books about this willful bird, well … Children get to see this situation from the adult's perspective as the pigeon finds excuses not to go to bed.
Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn't Know She Was Extinct
Reginald Von Hoobie-Doobie tries to convince the townspeople that dinosaurs are extinct. No one believes him, except Edwina, the talented and kind cookie-baking dinosaur — and she should know! The silly humor of Reginaldï¿½s comeuppance is conveyed in understated text and cartoon illustration.
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs
The author turns the familiar tale around in this funny take-off. Here, Goldilocks goes to the home of three dinosaurs who would like nothing more than a chocolate-filled little girl. Goldi and the dinos take away very different lessons — all to the delight of well-read children!
Knuffle Bunny Free
Knuffle Bunny is accidentally left on the plane when Trixie and her parents visit the grandparents in Holland. Though Trixie is miserable without her snuggle buddy, she finds him on the plane bound for home where Trixie shows remarkable growth and selflessness. A note from Daddy completes the book's emotional circle.
Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity
What's worse than finding out that Sonja has a Knuffle Bunny just like Trixie? Learning that there has been a Knuffle Bunny mix-up in the wee hours of the morning when most preschoolers are sleeping! All's well in the satisfying sequel to the Caldecott honor-winning Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale (2004).
Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale
Trixie enjoys errands with her dad until her beloved stuffed toy, Knuffle Bunny, is left at the Laundromat. It takes her mom's insight to figure out what made Trixie go "boneless." Only then is the beloved toy recovered and Trixie utters her first real words! Cartoon characters are imposed on a background of monochromatic photographs portraying a New York neighborhood. The book was awarded a Caldecott Honor.
Leonardo the Terrible Monster
Because Leonardo is a small, not very menacing monster, he decides to find a kid to "scare the tuna salad out of!" Instead, Leonardo finds a boy in need of a pal and decides not to become a terrible monster but a wonderful friend. Clean-lined illustrations and interesting typeface share a story of finding your place and making new friends.
Let's Go for a Drive (An Elephant and Piggie Book)
Elephant and Piggie gather everything they might possibly need when they decide to go for a drive. They have every possible thing except…the car! Humor abounds as the dynamic duo prepare and then adapt their travel plans.
Let's Say Hi to Friends Who Fly!
Cat the Cat asks Bee the Bee and other flying animals if they can fly then cheers them on as they do what comes naturally. When Rhino the Rhino goes up in a plane, all of the playground friends join him! Strong, simple forms enhance the deadpan humor in this new and series about the endlessly friendly feline.
See also: Cat the Cat, Who Is That?
Mole Rat Gets Dressed
Wilbur is a different kind of mole rat. Instead of always being naked, he dons sporty clothing much to the chagrin of others. That is until his Grand-pah also asks "Why not?" Willems' understated humor in both text and illustration will delight readers of all ages.
That Is NOT a Good Idea!
For whom is the walk NOT a good idea, an increasingly agitated plump yellow chick warns? The babushka-wearing goose or the hat-wearing fox? The chick intrudes on the old-fashioned movie format to share his admonition in this comic tale with a surprise ending.
The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?
Pigeon (of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! fame) is back. Here, he's irritated that a very polite duckling gets a cookie by simply asking! Could good manners really matter? Understated humor abounds in both minimal text and characteristic illustration.
The Pigeon Wants a Puppy
Pigeon — like most young children — wants a puppy and he wants it now. He wheedles, begs, and promises to get it. Will pigeon change his mind when a puppy shows up? Readers will appreciate that the indomitable pigeon speaks directly to them on each appealing page.
The Thank You Book
When Piggie decides to thank everyone that has ever appeared in a book with him and Gerald, he forgets someone very important – Gerald! But Gerald reminds Piggie that one more thank you is needed. Fans of Elephant and Piggie will delight in what is supposed to be the final book.
There Is a Bird on Your Head!
When a bird builds its nest on Elephant's head, his buddy Piggie suggests that Elephant simply ask the bird to move to another location. The bird honors Elephant's polite request and takes up residence on Piggie's head! Humor abounds in the understated text and simple illustrations of this easy-to-read book.
Time to Sleep, Sheep the Sheep
All the animals get ready when Cat the Cat announces that it's time to sleep; that is, everyone but wide-eyed Owl. Comical, cartoon illustrations on spare backgrounds and sparse text make this just right for new or emerging readers.
Watch Me Throw the Ball!
Gerald the elephant can throw a ball a long distance but to his surprise, Piggie delights in just throwing the ball no distance at all. Willem's signature humor and cartoon style using dialogue balloons reminds readers that Piggie and Gerald have a great deal to share.
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