Author Study

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by SarahSimone
Last updated 7 years ago

Language Arts
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Author Study

Author Background Information Mo Willems is an American writer, animator, and creator of children's books. Willems was born on February 11, 1968 in New Orleans. Willems first became interested in cartoon art when he was just a child. When he was 4 years old he started drawing and creating his own characters. Willems enjoyed writing stories about his characters and sharing them with others. While in school, Willems acted in plays and started doing standup routines at comedy clubs. Willems was awarded a Caldecott Honor in 2004, 2005 and 2008. Recently he has been creating Elephant and Piggie books as an early reader serious.

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Author Study: Mo Willems

•Pigeon Series Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (2003), The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! (2004), The Pigeon Loves Things That Go! (2005)•Knuffle Bunny Series Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity, Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion•Elephant and Piggie Series Can I Play Too?, I Will Surprise My Friend!, Elephants Cannot Dance!

Elephant and Piggie debate whether or not "elephants can dance." Elephant is convinced that he cannot and even tells Piggie to look it up in the book of what Elephants can do. Although Elephant made it clear he cannot dance, he still gives it a try and lets Piggie teach him. Elephant basically does the opposite of each instruction. Although this book proves that Elephant cannot dance, there is a deeper message within the book which is: If you are having fun with your friends who cares if you can dance or you can’t. the only thing that matters is that you are having fun and laughing.

Elephant and Piggie decide that they want to have a catch. Just as they are about to start snake comes by and asks to join them. At first Elephant and Piggie just laugh at snake because they think that he is kidding because he doesn't have arms to play catch. Once they realize snake is serious, they decide to give it a go and throw the ball to him. Unfortunately snake isn't able to catch the ball and it hits him right in the head. He wants to give up on trying but Piggie and Elephant won't let him and they decide to think of a compromise so that they can all play catch together.

Elephant decides to get an ice cream come and now is in a dilemma as to whether or not he should share it with his friend Piggie. Elephant then goes through a deliberation in his head as to whether or not Piggie would want that ice cream. Elephant gets distracted talking about all these rationales in his head that when he finally goes to share his ice cream it is all melted. Piggie finds Elephant and decided to share the ice cream he bought with Elephant. The true message behind this book is mainly about sharing and putting others first.

Elephant and Piggie are relaxing when a bird suddenly lands on Elephants head. He asks Piggie what is on his head and she tells him that it is a bird. Next another bird lands on his head and they start to build a nest. Elephant is not very happy and wants the birds to go away. Elephant gets angry when the birds don't leave and Piggie suggests that Elephant asks the birds to leave. Once Elephant asks the birds to leave, they kindly do and wind up on Piggie's head. This books really portrays the correct way of handling certain situations and always talking it out instead of using anger.

Piggie and Elephant witness two squirrels surprising each other and because that looked like fun, they decide to hide behind a rock to surprise each other. Elephant starts to get worried about Piggie because he hasn't heard from her. He starts thinking about terrible things that could be happening to her. Piggie on the other hand starts thinking about Elephant and where he could be. She thinks that he got lunch and gets hungry herself. When they both get up, they accidentally bump into each other. They decided that next time they will play tag instead of surprising each other.

Dear Mo Willems,I absolutely love the Elephant and Piggie series that you created. I am curious where your inspiration for the characters came from? I love the bond that Piggie and Elephant share and I think that these characters will be great to share with my students. I also really love how each book is composed of the speech bubbles that match the characters color. I have honestly never seen that before and I really love it. I definitely think it will help my students follow along with the reading better and it will help them understand who said what. I have seen a teacher use the Elephant and Piggie books in her classroom and I must say the students really love them, and I do as well. They are a lot of fun and I love the animations that you included in each of your books. I also love how honest and true the messages are within these books and I think they are relatable in every grade. I noticed that your books can be translated into other languages and I was wondering if you could tell me more about that. I am going to be a special education teacher so that aspect would be extremely helpful for me to know. I am really thankful for these books and I can't wait to read your other series as well. Take care, and I can't wait to hear back from you.Sincerely,Sarah Simone

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