Are You Ready to Play Outside?
Publication Date: October 9, 2008
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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 Are You Ready to Play Outside?, Piggie can't wait to go play in the sunshine. But will a rainy day ruin all the fun?
Mo Willems is the author and illustrator of such groundbreaking books as Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale (Caldecott Honor winner 2004) and Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! (Caldecott Honor winner 2003), leading the New York Times to declare him "the biggest new talent to emerge thus far in the 00s." Mo considers this series some of his most fun work.
Mo's deceptively simple art style was developed in his early career as a six-time Emmy Award winning writer and animator for Sesame Street and the creator of Cartoon Network's Sheep in the Big City. He lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York.
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In a refreshing reversal of their usual roles, the often-despondent Gerald proves to be a valuable friend to exuberant Piggie when her own naturally sunny disposition fails her. Fretful about the sudden rain that threatens to ruin an afternoon of running, skipping, and jumping, Piggie declares emphatically that she is "not a happy pig." Poor Gerald patiently weathers the rain and her brief tantrum and, as readers might expect, the pair soon make the most of the situation. Alive with movement and feeling, the illustrations tell the story, setting the tone and adding depth to the simple text. The words themselves are manageable for young readers, and these endearing and distinctly developed characters have great child appeal. With a cameo appearance by the Pigeon on the final endpaper, this is a winning addition to the author's canon.—SLJ
The more Elephant and Piggie books I read, the more my heart belongs to the long-suffering Gerald. In this latest installment, Piggie's mood changes from ecstatic to miserable when one drop of rain threatens his outside plans. While Piggie rants about the sudden storm, Gerald, his elephant friend, watches patiently and helps steady the mood with his broad ear acting as a handy umbrella. Midway through this drama, two new critters join the familiar friends-worms. (Who doesn't love a happy worm, splishing and splashing in the rain?) The jolly worms remind pessimistic Piggie that rain doesn't mean the end of play. Our heroes soon emulate their invertebrate buddies, running, jumping, and skipping in the rain. Willems, who can make even the lowliest worm show deep emotion, is at his joyful best when Gerald and Piggie do a celebratory dance in the rain. Young readers will enjoy acting out this newest drama, easily following the color-coded speech bubbles, laughing along with the silly situations, and learning to look on the bright side while barely noticing the magic they are making: reading for the very first time.—Horn Book