Author(s): Mo Willems
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 "A Big Guy Took My Ball! "Piggie is devastated when a big guy takes her ball! Gerald is big, too...but is he big enough to help his best friend?
Commended for Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens (Up to Seven) 2014 and Geisel Medal (Dr. Seuss) 2014 and Cybils (Easy Readers) 2013.
When a big guy takes a ball Piggie found, she appeals to her much bigger friend Gerald for redress. Normally timid Gerald, stung by the injustice, is happy to mount up and ride to the rescue, but he gets more than he bargained for when the big guy turns out to be a whale, literally, who dwarfs the quickly unemboldened Gerald.
Fortunately, Gerald and Piggie pool their creative talents to make room for everyone, and harmony is restored.
Willems has once again found the sweet spot where humor and situational familiarity meet cognitive capacity; here he introduces perspective through a very familiar playground experience. Introducing comparatives through illustration, font size, and the introduction of the er word ending, he carves out both physical and moral space in the negotiation of the way size matters.
The ball and Gerald are big to Piggie, but not to the ball's owner; being big seems to hold all the advantages to our heroes, while being small has more allure for the lonely whale. The ability to see through the eyes of someone who thinks differently than you is an essential developmental leap that's crucial for empathy, and Willems takes it even one step further in creating a game that requires the advantages of both big guys and small guys for its success.
The pictures will keep 'em laughing, and the concepts will keep 'em learning, so we say, please, Mr. Willems, keep 'em coming.
Mo Willems (www.pigeonpresents.com), a number one "New York Times "best-selling author and illustrator, has been awarded a Caldecott Honor on three occasions (for "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!," "Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale," and "Knuffle Bunny Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity"). "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!" was also an inaugural inductee into the Indies Choice Picture Book Hall of Fame. And his celebrated Elephant & Piggie early reader series has been awarded the Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal on two occasions (for "There Is a Bird on Your Head! "and "Are You Ready to Play Outside?") as well as three Honors (for We Are in a Book!, I Broke My Trunk!, and "Let's Go for a Drive!").
Other favorites include "Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed" and "City Dog, Country Frog," illustrated by Jon J Muth. See above.