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Kindergarten-Grade 3–In these two easy-to-read books, Willems introduces two best friends. Gerald is a fairly stodgy, bespectacled elephant with a stumpy, downturned trunk. Piggie is more daring and whimsical, and, like many friends, the two complement one another. In My Friend Is Sad, Piggie tries hard to cheer her dejected friend. She disguises herself as a cowboy, clown, and a robot, but Gerald doesn’t recognize her and is sad because she isn’t there to enjoy the fun. Without missing a beat, Piggie points out that he needs new glasses. In Today I Will Fly, Piggie announces her intention to do in an effort to her skeptical pal. Finally, though, Gerald is making adventurous plans of his own. With only some tweaks of his expressive lines, Willems creates engaging characters. The stories move briskly, with a minimal word count and touches of whimsy during. Fans of the writer’s previous books will have to check the endpapers for a cameo appearance of his familiar pigeon. These simple, humorous stories will sound just the right note for beginning readers.–Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
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*Starred Review* Graphic-novel influences have reached into most areas of children’s book publishing; here, they crop up in a classic genre–the friendship-duo easy reader–and chalk up yet another success for two-time Caldecott Honor winner Willems. The basic approach is familiar from Willems’ previous books, especially Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (2003). It’s as if each page were one frame of a comic strip: characters zip out and in of white space, proffer speech-bubble remarks, and express emotion through spot-on body language. In My Friend Is Sad, upbeat, outgoing Piggie cavorts to cheer up depressed Elephant, whose doldrums are obvious from his furrowed brow and drooping, stovepipelike trunk. Not having recognized his costumed pal, the myopic elephant remains sad because Piggie missed out on the fun. Accessible, appealing, and full of authentic emotions about what makes friendships tick, this will put a up to date shine on easy-reader collections and give Willems’ many fans–whatever their age or reading level–two more characters to love. (Vying for their affections is that irrepressible pigeon, who, still utterly in character, finds his way onto the endpapers.) Jennifer Mattson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Gerald is careful. Piggie is not.Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can.Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to.Gerald and Piggie are best friends.In My Friend is Sad, elephant Gerald is down in the dumps. Piggie is made up our minds to cheer him up by dressing as a cowboy, a clown, and even a robot! But what does it take to make a sad elephant happy? The answer will make even pessimistic elephants smile.