Early on, we found ourselves ascribing to and emulating the Floortime model of engaging our son, Oscar, where you look to be “Playfully obstructive” (note the capital “P” and the lower case “o!”). It suits my personality as well as that of my silly, funny husband and we came to see our goofy sense of humor as being one of the keys to unlock Oscar’s personality.
In service to that notion, and our own love of reading, we went looking for books to Make ‘Em Laugh. A search that inevitably led to the inimitable, delightful, presumably irrepressible Mo Willems (NYT best seller, multiple Caldecotts and Theodore Seuss Geisel awards, yadda yadda, he is HILARIOUS.) He has a couple of “series” of books (and what kid doesn’t enjoy the predictability and continuity of characters that come with a series, I ask you?), and the Elephant & Piggie one is our favorite, hands down.
Elephant & Piggie recreate in line drawing form the classic dynamic of Laurel and Hardy, Abbott and Costello, your best friend and you–highlighting the ways we can play off each other to create kooky, funny situations and then make them even kookier and funnier along the way.
In “There Is a Bird on Your Head,” Elephant meets with an interesting crisis: a bird has landed on his head and then, finding it eminently suitable, takes up residence. This leads to a chain of events observed by Piggie, which she then relays blow by blow to Elephant, much to his dismay.
Reading the book is a ton of fun, let it be said. But perhaps the real fun has come as we have used the wacky scenario to draw my son into “pretend play” and to engage him in hysterical conversations about things that OBVIOUSLY aren’t on our heads but the possibility of which is causing us much dramatic distress, such as poop (yes, of course, poop), the cats’ litter box, hot dogs, the downtown Westin elevator, Gramps, etc. You name it, if it would be absurd on your head, we have talked about it.
And that’s kind of the real beauty of Mo Willems’s books: they are ridiculously engaging and enjoyable! As a pleasant consequence, you find yourself referencing them and laughing about them days and even weeks later with your child. They tend to center around a funny perspective or situation and then devolve into a joyous, riotous resolution. I mean, just LOOK at the guy:
See? I thought you would understand once I showed you his picture.
Go read some Elephant & Piggie! You’ll laugh, you’ll probably not cry, it will almost certainly be substantially better than Cats. Which was not at all funny.