Friday, July 12, 2013

Book Review: Can I Play, Too? By Mo Willems

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Funny book with a very strong message
Cons: The ideas they try aren't good in real life
The Bottom Line
Including others
In spite of many problems
Create some great laughs

Playing Catch with a Snake

I have become a huge fan of Mo Willems and especially his Elephant and Piggie books.  These simple stories, told via pictures and dialogue only, are a delight of humor and good lessons.  Can I Play, Too? is a great example of that.

These book feature two friends, Gerald the Elephant and Piggie the Pig.  They are very different, yet they are always looking out for each other.  There is a simple joy and humor to the stories just from the relationship between our leads alone.  Usually, these two are the focus with only an occasional appearance by another character.  There is a guest character that plays a huge part in this story, however.

Gerald and Piggie are getting ready to play Catch, a favorite game, when their friend Snake shows up and wants to play, too.  Naturally, this stumps the friends since Snake doesn’t have any hands.  Will the trio be able to figure out a way to play?

I don’t want to say any more about the story plot wise since the joy of this book comes from the surprises along the way.  But let me assure you, I was laughing the entire way through.

Of course, I don’t recommend you try what the characters try to include Snake, but I think most kids would know it is a bad idea already.

There is a subtle lesson here about inclusion, and it’s a good one.  While Snake’s request is initially met with silence he thinks means they don’t want to play with him, they quickly assure him it is more that they are stymied by how to include him.  From there on out, it is easy to see they are trying to include him in any way possible.  That’s a good reminder to me to be more inclusive, and kids will see it, too.  The book never preaches, it just uses our character’s actions to teach the lesson.  And the laughs will help the lesson go down.

As I mentioned earlier, this is a simple picture book.  Each page includes just a sentence or two of dialogue and a simple illustration.  No long texts, just a story that is always fun, easy to follow, and quick to read.

Really, you can’t go wrong with any book in this series, but for pure fun, Can I Play, Too? is a good place to start.

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