Review: I Really Like Slop

The Basics

Title: I Really Like Slop!
Author: Mo Willems
ISBN: 9781484722626
Copyright Date: 2015
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Reader N/A
Level: N/A
Series: Elephant and Piggie


Piggie has some slop and she really wants Gerald to try it. Will he work up the courage to try something new?

The illustrations of this beginning reader series are really what shines. Piggie and Gerald are so expressive that you know exactly what the character is thinking/feeling which is so important for a beginning reader to see spelled out.

That being said, I Really Like Slop! didn’t work for me. While I can see many children relating to the struggle to try something new, Piggie’s line of “Eating slop is part of pig culture” made me stop and think about cultural foods and how often they are said to be “gross” and “weird” by children. I was pleased that Gerald tried it, but the joke for me didn’t resonate. I thought it might make children who eat different food than their peers feel othered.

Obviously, this book is a must for Elephant and Piggie fans in the library. But I don’t think it will become one that I champion and hand-sell.

Geisel 2008 Award & Honors

For more information about the Geisel Award, visit the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award homepage.

Winner: There is a Bird on Your Head by Mo Willems

Gerald is minding his own business when suddenly a bird lands on his head. Then another bird! Then a nest! Then three eggs! Piggie stands by Gerald and tells him what is happening since he can’t see the top of his head. This humorous story works so well as a beginning reader.

I have to admit that even though I’ve read this book countless times, I still laugh every time at the end of the story. The way that the two best friends work together to solve their problem and discover the simple sweet solution perfectly sets up the punchline at the end. All of the characterizations are wonderful. Gerald’s fear and anxiousness regarding the whole situation are apparent in his eyes and body language. Piggie’s optimism and endless smile only makes the ending that much funnier.

This is one of the very first Elephant and Piggie books and I hope that the Geisel Award only helped call attention to these wonderful books and ensure that quality beginning readers are written and promoted for a long, long time.


Honor: First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

A deceptively simple picture book explains basic first/then concepts to preschoolers. Filled with Seeger’s beautiful page cut-outs, this book will delight beginning readers. Most likely shelved in picture book because of the trade-size, parents with beginning readers should seek this title out.

Honor: Hello, Bumblebee Bat by Darrin Lunde

This non-fiction title teaches readers about the bumblebee bat in a question/answer format. The familiar form of question/answer will prove to be beneficial to beginning readers. While there are a lot of words per page, this is a title that doesn’t need to be read straight through and can be worked on page-by-page.

Honor: Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler

This fabulous picture book using jazz rhymes and sounds to create a book sure to please anyone learning to read. Lots of repetitive words (up/down/baby, etc.) and great rhymes like snap clap, etc. An excellent title to give to beginning reader and it works in storytime too!

Honor: Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre

Another non-fiction title with amazing repetitive language. Sayre certainly has a way with words as she explains to readers how vultures find their food. The book is illustrated by Steve Jenkins and would be a fine addition to any library’s non-fiction section.

Geisel 2009 Award & Honors

For more information about the Geisel Award, visit the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award homepage.

Winner: Are You Ready to Play Outside? by Mo Willems

Gerald and Piggie have big plans to play outside. They are going to run and skip and jump and it will be wonderful. But when it starts to rain, Piggie is so upset. She hates the rain! How will they play outside in the rain? Luckily two little worms come out and show that the rain is not all that bad to play in.

This is a classic Elephant and Piggie story. A problem is presented and the two friends work it out by the end of the book. These books have simple vocabulary, make great use of white space, and the characters convey emotions remarkably. It’s no surprise to anyone that Mo Willems has collected as many Geisel Awards and Honors as he has.

“Are You Ready to Play Outside?” is an early core Elephant and Piggie book and no library should be without it. Great for beginning readers, read-alouds, and anyone who likes to laugh.


Honor: Chicken Said, “Cluck!” by Judyann Ackerman Grant

Earl and Pearl are planting pumpkins and chicken is in the way. But when grasshoppers threaten Earl and Pearl’s pumpkins, who can help chase them away? A fantastic beginning reader book with lots of repetition and simple vocabulary. Most of the complex words (pumpkins, grasshoppers) are clearly supported by the text. Another of note: diverse characters in everyday situations!

Honor: One Boy by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

One boy counts his way through the paintings that are on his wall. What appears to be a simple counting book is made all the more complex by Vaccaro Seeger’s imaginative and delightful cut-outs. A great source of vocabulary and a chance for children to practice making predictions about what will happen after the page turn.

Honor: Stinky by Eleanor Davis

Stinky knows that all children love to take baths, eat cake and apples, and do not like mucky mud, slimy slugs, or smelly monsters like him. But when Nick — a child — wanders in Stinky’s swamp, Stinky has a plan to get him out! Nick and Stinky are clearly friends in the making and beginning readers will definitely follow their journey to the end. “Stinky” is told in a comic book style with panels and dialog bubbles. This will absolutely help beginning readers.

Honor: Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator by Sarah C. Campbell

A non-fiction title honor book tells the tale of a wolfsnail (who eats other slugs and snails) as he searches for his prey. Simple sentences work well with the photographs to tell the story. Definitely a great beginning reader for those who are interested in non-fiction and science!

Review: I Will Take a Nap!

The Basics

Title: I Will Take a Nap!
Author: Mo Willems
ISBN: 9781484716304
Copyright Date: 2015
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Reader Brand: N/A
Level: N/A
Series: Elephant and Piggie


Gerald wants to take a nap, but Piggie keeps interrupting his nap! Will this tired and cranky elephant ever be able to fall asleep and get his nap?

This is the first Elephant and Piggie that felt a bit like a reach to me. I thought the set-up of the joke and twist was fine until the twist was revealed. Piggie having a floating turnip head to prove that Gerald was dreaming the whole time was a bit too much for me. And this might me being a stodgy old adult. I haven’t had a chance to read this in front of a proper test audience. Turnip heads might result in hysterical child laughter. I don’t know yet!

I did think that the green background helped provide context clues to readers that Gerald was dreaming. I was wondering if the average child would know what a turnip looked like and whether or not that would be a difficult word for the kids. Otherwise, the words are just on par for what a beginning reader is looking for. As always, the uncluttered background is wonderful for readers just learning to decode words and the pictures provide enough support to the text.

Geisel 2011 Award & Honors

For more information about the Geisel Award, visit the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award homepage.

Winner: Bink and Gollie by Kate DiCamillo & Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile

This is where knowing about the award criteria comes in handy. Bink and Gollie may look more like a chapter book, but since it is directed towards the beginning reader audience (Pre-K through 2nd grade), it is eligible for the Geisel.

These two best friends go on three adventures in three short chapters: one to find a new pair of socks, one on an imaginary trips to the Andes Mountains, and one to find a marvelous companion.

There are a ton of vocabulary words in this text. The illustrations fully support the story and give the readers context clues as to what’s going on. But the words — the words are so rich and it is absolutely delightful to see a beginning reader text that doesn’t shy away from using three syllable words.

I do however think that libraries tend to shelve this one in Early Chapter/Juv Novels. Make sure to remember it for your older beginning readers or for third/fourth grade struggling readers since it looks novel size.


Honor: Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same by Grace Lin

A wonderful diverse story about twins Ling and Ting. Ling and Ting are often mixed up for one another, but they are not exactly the same. Ting has a funny haircut; Ling cannot use chopsticks. A great book series for twins to read. Also, a great selection for all libraries.

Honor: We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems

Piggie and Gerald get more than a little meta in this installment of the Elephant and Piggie series. My favorite book of the series and one that will have all the kids laughing at any mention of the word “banana”.

Geisel 2012 Award & Honors

For more information about the Geisel Award, visit the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award homepage.

Winner: Tales for Very Picky Eaters by Josh Schneider

In this beginning reader, there are five stories all about how James’s father tries to convince him to try five new foods. He comes up with creative solutions that eventually convince James to try the food in front of him. In the last story, James decides to try a food just in case he might like it.

What a familiar story for so many parents out there! I remember one time my parents promised me a Skip-It to try fishsticks — the one food I put my food down no matter how many times my parents served it. They might have learned something from James’s father!

Lots of text and new vocabulary words are presented in this text perfect for more advanced beginning readers.


Honor: I Broke My Trunk! by Mo Willems

Gerald broke his trunk and it is a very long story. Piggie waits patiently to hear all of Gerald’s crazy, long story and winds up with a story of his own to tell. A humorous and imaginative addition to the Elephant and Piggie series.

Honor: I Want My Hat Back! by Jon Klassen

A bear is looking for his hat. He asks several animals before realizing that he has seen his hat! This twisty ending will have preschoolers and beginning readers laughing at bear’s sense of justice.

Honor: See Me Run by Paul Meisel

Dogs go throughout their day, running and digging, etc. When the dogs dig up a set of dinosaur bones, they have a surprise of their own. This selection from the I Like to Read! brand is a winner as a picture book and a beginning reader.

Geisel 2013 Award & Honors

For more information about the Geisel Award, visit the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award homepage.

Winner: Up! Tall! And High! by Ethan Long

Nine birds explore what the words up, tall, and high mean in this basic concepts book for beginning readers. The book is broken into three sections/stories in which birds compete with one another.

This is an amazing young reader. With only 34 words, very young readers will be able to read this easily without a grown-up helping them. The books also includes lift-the-flaps which help illustrate the differences between tall/high/up/down. The text is nearly always in speeches bubbles with the exception of the title pages of each story and sound effects (sigh, poof, flap).

I really like that each section tells a complete story. Struggling readers can make it through one story and feel accomplished without being daunted by finishing the whole book in one sitting.


Honor: Let’s Go for a Drive! by Mo Willems

Piggie and Gerald have grand plans to go for a drive. They begin collecting all the things they will need for the drive, but they might be missing one crucial piece for a drive… Piggie and Gerald’s emotions will keep the readers involved until the end.

Honor: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin & James Dean

Pete the Cat is back in this third installment. This time Pete’s singing about his four buttons. But when they start to pop off, will Pete worry? Goodness, no! A great storytime read to teach counting and a great beginning reader.

Honor: Rabbit and Robot: The Sleepover by Cece Bell

A pair of friends have different expectations for their sleepover. Will they find a way to have fun together? An older beginning reader that’s perfect for more proficient readers.

Geisel 2014 Award & Honors

For more information about the Geisel Award, visit the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award homepage.

Winner: The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli

It’s a classic childhood dilemma — when you love watermelon, you’ll eventually swallow a watermelon seed. The Watermelon Seed tells that exact story in simple words and sentences, creating a delightfully funny beginning reader.

The text is large and easily read; the book is illustrated using only four colors: green, pink, white, and black. The illustrations help readers with potentially confusing sentences like “growing in my guts” by showing an X-ray. Crocodile is wonderfully dynamic in his expression, cluing readers in to his panic after he realizes that he has swallowed a seed.

This is another book that was actually shelved and processed as a picture book before it won the Geisel Award. At my previous library, I put it in Stories/Pizzoli. At my current library, it was read and cataloged by the previous Early Literacy Librarian as Picture/Stories/Food/Pizzoli.

The hilarious conclusion — seriously, what kindergarten/preschool student doesn’t love a good burp joke? — will have kids rolling in the aisle.

The Watermelon Seed is currently on our state’s K-3rd grade reader’s choice list of nominations and it’s one of my favorites. Fingers crossed!


Honor: Ball by Mary Sullivan

A single word — ball — is all that a beginning reader needs to read this imaginative book about a ball-obsessed dog. A great book to work on punctuation and emotions. (Also reminds me of my sweet dog-nephew who is also ball-obsessed! I am playing ball with him as I write this!)

Honor: A Big Guy Took My Ball! by Mo Willems

A big guy has stole Piggie’s ball. When Gerald tries to get it back, he is surprised to see a bigger big guy than him — a whale — has the ball. Can they figure out how to play together? Another wonderful addition to the Elephant and Piggie series.

Honor: Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes

When Penny finds a marble in Mrs. Goodwin’s yard, she picks it up and takes it home. Later that evening, she begins to wonder if Mrs. Goodwin is missing the marble. Another familiar childhood story for Penny and her fans.

Geisel 2015 Award & Honors

For more information about the Geisel Award, visit the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award homepage.

Winner: You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang, illustrated by Christopher Weyant

Two different groups of furry creatures cannot decide which one of them is big and which one of them is small. A engaging and energetic picture book, written by a husband and wife team. I purchased this for my library and after reading it cataloged it as “Picture/Basics/Opposites/Kang”. You can imagine my surprise when I heard it announced as the Geisel Award winner that cold February morning!

After the announcements, I took the time to read through You Are (Not) Small carefully, looking at it through the eyes of a beginning reader.

The font size is absolute perfection if you ask me. The illustrations fill the majority of the page, but there is still more than enough white space for a beginning reader to use. The vocabulary is very limited, but easy enough for a beginning reader to handle on their own. The characters convey the change in emotion from inquisitive to argumentative to angry perfectly.

I laughed out loud the first time that I read the book myself. And I had quite a few preschoolers who enjoyed it at my family storytime. I would definitely encourage librarians to get this into the hands of beginning readers — to make sure it doesn’t become lost in the picture books!


Honor: Mr. Putter and Tabby Turn the Page by Cynthia Rylant and Arthur Howard

This sweet story will touch the hearts of librarians everywhere. Mr. Putter and Tabby sign up to read books together at the library, but when Mrs. Teaberry and Zeke the dog also sign up, they become nervous about the event. Will Zeke manage to stay out of trouble?

A more advanced beginning reader, this will charm many existing fans of the series and will draw in new fans!

Honor: Waiting Is Not Easy! by Mo Willems

Piggie has a suprise for Gerald, but he must wait. Can he wait until Piggie’s surprise arrives?

I often think that there is no greater fan of Elephant and Piggie than myself. And then I immediately meet a child that has connected with Piggie and Gerald on a perfect childhood level and I gladly relinquish my title as “Number One Fan”. This is a fabulous addition to the series, one that nearly eclipsed We Are In a Book! as my favorite.

Series to Know: Elephant & Piggie

Series Info

The first five books in the “Elephant and Piggie” series.


  1. Today I Will Fly! (2007)
  2. My Friend Is Sad (2007)
  3. I Am Invited to a Party! (2007)
  4. There Is a Bird On Your Head (2007)
  5. I Love My New Toy (2008)
  6. I Will Surprise My Friend (2008)
  7. Are You Ready to Play Outside? (2008)
  8. Watch Me Throw the Ball (2009)
  9. Elephants Cannot Dance (2009)
  10. Pigs Make Me Sneeze (2009)
  11. I Am Going! (2010)
  12. Can I Play Too? (2010)
  13. We Are In a Book! (2010)
  14. I Broke My Trunk! (2011)
  15. Should I Share My Ice Cream? (2011)
  16. Happy Pig Day! (2011)
  17. Listen to My Trumpet (2012)
  18. Let’s Go for a Drive (2012)
  19. A Big Guy Took My Ball (2013)
  20. I’m a Frog! (2013)
  21. My New Friends Is So Fun (2014)
  22. Waiting Is Not Easy! (2014)

Publisher: Disney Hyperion

Links: Pigeon Presents Elephant & Piggie [2013 Party Kit] || World of Elephant & Piggie [Kit] || Author Site

Awards: 2008 Geisel Medal (for There Is a Bird On Your Head), 2009 Medal (for Are You Ready to Play Outside?), 2011 Geisel Honor (for We Are In a Book!), 2012 Geisel Honor (for I Broke My Trunk!), 2013 Geisel Honor (for Let’s Go For a Drive), 2014 Geisel Honor (for A Big Guy Took My Ball), 2015 Geisel Honor (for Waiting Is Not Easy!), 2009 Monarch Nominee (for Today I Will Fly!), 2013 Monarch Nominee & Second-Place Award (for We Are In A Book!), 2008 Cybils Award (for I Love My New Toy & 2008 Cybils Finalist (for I Will Surprise My Friend!), 2009 Cybils Award (for Watch Me Throw the Ball!), 2010 Cybils Award (for We Are In a Book!), 2011 Cybils Award (for I Broke My Trunk!), 2013 Cybils Finalist (for A Big Guy Took My Ball!), 2014 Cybils Finalist (for My New Friend Is So Fun!)

Reviews: Horn Book, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Library Media Connection Reviews


Elephant & Piggie is one of the first series you should point beginning readers to. Stories are easy to understand through Willems’s expressive illustrations. One of my favorite ways the books help children to understand dialogue is that Gerald(Elephant)’s words are always in a gray speech bubble while Piggie’s are always in pink. When other characters are introduced, each character has their own colored speech bubble as well.

The series builds vocabulary as it goes on. In Today I Will Fly!, readers first learn “fly” and then “flew” and “flying” later on in the story. I think this is particularly helpful for beginning readers who might be struggling to understand past/present tenses.

The first Elephant and Piggie book, Today I Will Fly! has 41 unique words while the most recent, Waiting Is Not Easy! has 72 unique words. As with every series, the range of unique words and difficulty level can fluctuate, so I’ve provided the Lexile range and Accelerated Reader ranges. Series range for Lexile: 0(BR)-240 and Accelerated Reader: 0.5-1.3.

[This is a case where I feel that Lexile & AR may be doing beginning readers a great disservice by having such low ranges. A lot of beginning readers may test out of the ranges far before they are ready to leave Piggie and Gerald behind.]


I feel like this is a case where I cannot be unbiased. Elephant and Piggie feel like dear friends to me after I’ve seen how the kids at both of my libraries adore them.

The humor in these books is funny to both children and adults. I have seen a room of kids crack up at “Banana!” in We Are In a Book! when just a few hours ago the librarians were in stitches practicing our reader’s theater version of the same scene. (And speaking of reader’s theater — if you’ve never done these books as a reader’s theater piece, you are missing out. We just read Waiting Is Not Easy as a form of stress relief during our last department meeting because we’re changing our ILS.)

As with all series, I know that other readers have felt like some of the sparkle of Elephant and Piggie may be leaving. I, personally, do not feel that way. I thought for a brief moment that Waiting Is Not Easy might have become my new favorite this past month, but I still think the joy of “Banana” cannot be topped.

Dates to Remember

I Will Take A Nap! — the next installment in the series — will be out on 6.2.15! Mark your calendars now!