If you have even a passing familiarity with children’s literature, then odds are you’re familiar with the work of Mo Willems. Pigeon, Knuffle Bunny, Elephant & Piggie; they’re all extremely lovable and extraordinarily popular with the under-10 age segment. And the odd 20-something. Walking into a library, you might not realize that there are actually 25 Elephant & Piggie books, because they are always checked out.
The Thank You Book, the final installment in the – Elephantverse? Piggieverse? Elepigverse – was released May 3, wrapping up nearly a decade of fun and friendship between the titular animals. It is a heartwarming conclusion to a series that is poignantly self-aware, making it more of a thank you from Mo Willems himself to all the readers who have partaken of his created world. Plus, there’s this great book trailer that will inevitably remind you of some hilariously bad local TV commercial.
BTW, the Thank-O-Rama website is a real thing. According to the helpful spinner on it, I’m supposed to thank babysitters and squirrels. I haven’t had a babysitter in…a while, but I guess I can thank the squirrels that lived on my college campus and got fat picking dining hall food out of the trash cans.
From the moment you pick it up, this book is marked as special. The cover has a gilded frame, which breaks from the typically plain styling of the series. It’s capturing a Kodak moment – the moment that Elephant & Piggie wrap up their story. It opens with Piggie’s decision to embark upon a Thank-O-Rama that will encompass everyone who is important to her. Elephant worries that she will forget someone. Piggie is confident. And away they go!
I haven’t read all the Elephant & Piggie books, but I recognized a few characters from previous installments. Piggie thanks the snake from Can I Play Ball? She thanks the birds that hatch on Elephant’s head in There Is a Bird on Your Head! She thanks Brian Bat from My New Friend Is So Fun! Even Pigeon makes an appearance in an adorable 4th-wall-breaking move.
If you haven’t ever picked up one of these books, give it a go the next time you’re in a bookstore or library (if you can find one checked in. Good luck.). It’ll only take you a minute to glance through – they are easy readers, after all. My personal favorite is We Are in a Book!, another 4th-wall-buster in which Elephant & Piggie panic over the impending end of the story. The faster you read, the faster they freak out. I got that one signed at the 2011 American Library Association convention, and met the stars themselves!
By turns silly, cute and heartwarming, the thing that makes this series stand the test of 10 years and 25 books is that they deliver a quality message hand in hand with their humor. It may be simple, but we could all learn a few things from Elephant & Piggie:
- Making new friends does not mean you forget about your old friends.
- If you want something, it helps to ask nicely.
- There’s a way to include everyone, even an armless snake who wants to play ball.
- Sharing is legit.
- And finally…you have lot of great people in your life – try THANKING them sometime! Even babysitters and squirrels.