I like to think of the author and illustrator Mo Willems as the Dr. Seuss of today. His  Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! and its sequels and his series of Gerald and Piggie books are must reads for preschoolers, parents and anyone else. One of my favorites is There Is a Bird on Your Head! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) published by Hyperion Books for Children in 2007.

In this book, Willems captures both the faithfulness and fragility of friendship. And what more unlikely friends could there be than Gerald, the elephant, and Piggie, the pig. The first page begins with no words but Gerald and Piggie are sitting with a look of contentment. But the upper part of the page gives a hint as to the conflict of the story, a bird is flying in. Still no words as the bird flies closer and closer, landing on Gerald’s head. He yells. Piggie moves away, simply announcing what has happened. The elephant looks incredulous while Piggie grins.

These amazing expressions are shown with a few simple brush strokes but the tension escalates with another bird and then a nest. The reader wonders, What next?  The elephant in dismay sits down now with two birds, a nest and three eggs on his head. He wants them to go away. Finally they do but not in the way you would expect.  The last picture shows the nest is on Piggie’s head.

This is the story of true friendship told with very few words and art work that overflows with expression. Mo Willems once said that he intentionally keeps his pictures childlike so children will realize they too are artists.

You will be delighted with the many books by Mo Willems.

Carol Green, a graduate of Northwestern, is married and the mother of three adult children. Her five grandchildren affectionately call her “Grams cracker.”

She is the published author of many poems for both adults and children; three coloring books: God Gave Me Five, ABC Fun Book, and Color God’s World Bright; and the picture book: My Mom Loves Me.

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