National Book Award Cermony on C-SPAN2 Tonight
Best Books of '08, from School Library Journal

Easy Reading: I Will Surprise My Friend!

In Mo Willems' I Will Surprise My Friend!, Gerald the Elephant and his pal Piggie get a good idea for a game from two squirrels playing by a large rock. Gerald and Piggie hide from each other on either side of the rock, and then Gerald's imagination gets the best of him. He fears something has happened to Piggie. Recently I read aloud this beginning reader to a kindergarten class. They liked it, and afterward we talked a little bit.

When asked who his favorite character was, one boy said, "The rock," which cracked me up. "Yes, the rock does play an important part," I said. The rest were pretty evenly split between Gerald and Piggie, with one case made for the squirrels. (Squirrels are the innovative thinkers in both I Will Surprise My Friend! and I Love My New Toy!, another 2008 offering in this popular series.)

The discussion continued. A girl raised her hand, and told me solemnly, "Pigs are farm animals." We all agreed that elephants were not.

This particular group of kindergartners had never heard of Willems' picture book Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. I know they'd like it.

I Will Surprise My Friend! and I Love My New Toy! are nominees in the Easy Reader category for the 2008 Children's and Young Adult Bloggers' Literary Awards (the Cybils).


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Jason and I jointly read I Will Surprise My Friend in a couple storytimes last week, and it was a big hit. The kids laughed a lot at the parts where Gerald is worrying about all the things that might have happened to Piggie. My favorite part is when Piggy says, "*I* am hungry for lunch."

Oh, yes, that is a funny part!

A read-aloud duet is a fabulous way to go with this book.

Well, that rock *is* a pretty riveting character.

I saw this in a bookstore last weekend. As usual, my four-year-old and I were laughing outloud.

This morning I woke up in a panic, wondering, "Are they squirrels or chipmunks? I need to double-check!" Yikes. I need some fresh air...

Thank you for your message and the link! I appreciate it. Don't you just LOVE this mo willems' book? And great duet idea!

Interesting to hear that they were evenly divided between Piggie and Gerald... My kids unanimously favor Piggie, and I figured that was typical. Nice to know there are young fans of Gerald too. And the rock.

Stella, you're welcome. I bet your kids love these books. I may try the duet idea with the children I tutor. They'd have fun with it.

Z-Dad, yes, the rock. Too funny. Glad to hear your crew likes these books, too.

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