Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An Invitation to the Dance: Elephants Cannot Dance! by Mo Willems


"Let's dance! I can teach you!" cries Piggie.

"I would love to learn how to dance."

"But elephants cannot dance."

Attired in purple leotard and tulle tutu, Piggie is ready to demo the demi-plie' to Gerald, but he has documentation to prove that he cannot comply by virtue of his pachyderm-hood--viz. What Elephants Can Do by Anne Elephant, page 11. The irrepressible Piggie is not deterred by a mere bibliographic citation, however.

"Gerald! It does not say that you cannot TRY!" insists Piggie.

And try Gerald does. When Piggie demonstrates jumps, he misses his cue; when Piggie points a toe to the front, Gerald does a leg curl to the back. When Piggie steps forward, Gerald steps backward. When Piggie pirouettes, Gerald falls on his fanny. And his "wiggle-waggle" and "robot walk" are arresting, to say the least.
"Grunt!, groan!, grr!
ENOUGH!" says Gerald.

Gerald plops down dejectedly, just as a couple of squirrels rush up. "Teach ME!" they plead.

"Sorry," says Piggie. "I cannot teach you now. My friend is sad."

"Silly! We do not want you to teach us. We want to learn 'The Elephant!'"

As ever, most of Mo Willems' new Elephant and Piggie tale is told through the characters' expressive faces and body language. Willems can portray a multitude of emotions with just a few lines, and in this beginning reader entry in his award-winning series, he only needs his cartooning skill, a few words, and a bit of clever typographical design to tell the story in his just-off-the-press Elephants Cannot Dance! (An Elephant and Piggie Book), the latest in his Theodore Seuss Award-winning series for early readers.

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