Recently I took two books in Mo Willems' new "Elephant and Piggie" series to the Maple Street School, where I read with some first graders who need extra practice. Robert and Jeffrey took turns reading from My Friend Is Sad, and liked it a lot, especially when a robot appears. They were proud to read a book so long, 57 pages. (Much of that is illustration, a fact I kept to myself.) The text proved a little bit hard-going for Jeffrey, who becomes discouraged when he does not recognize words, which happens more often that he would like. Robert tried cheering him up, much as Piggie does with Elephant in the book. Robert helped Jeffrey out when he did not know a sound or phrase, plus Robert provided the entr'acte conversation that tickled me as much as the reading.
Robert, smiling, to me: I have a girlfriend.
Jeffrey: You do?
Me: Is she in your class?
Robert: Yeah. But she doesn't like me.
Jeffrey: Who is it?
Robert: She doesn't even speak to me, but I still like her.
Robert: Daniela. But don't tell her. Please don't tell her.
Jeffrey, looking sad: I don't have a girlfriend. I don't like girls that much.
Robert: You like cars!
Jeffrey, face lighting up: Yeah. I like cars!
I gave the books to the teacher, so that the kids could read them during their independent reading time, which Robert was excited about. I left smiling. Next time I'll bring a book about cars.