Crisis of Conscience: Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems
I LOVE ICE CREAM!
WAIT! PIGGIE LOVES ICE CREAM, TOO.
PIGGIE IS MY BEST FRIEND.
SHOULD I SHARE MY ICE CREAM WITH HER?
It's the eternal human struggle between self-interest and altruism. Gerald the elephant has a glorious mint cone, cold and yummy-looking, firmly gripped in his trunk as he ponders the ethics of ice cream. He loves this flavor. It's so cold and creamy and delicious.
But what if his friend Piggie is feeling really sad right now? Wouldn't a shared ice cream cone make her feel better? Gerald envisions Piggie, obviously touched, gratefully sharing his cone, the two of them snout to trunk in bliss together. But, still, Gerald wants that cone, all of it.
Wait! It IS his cone. He has the right to enjoy his own cone, his favorite flavor, right? One lick and Gerald is in gustatory heaven. MMMMMM! Maybe Piggie doesn't even LIKE this flavor of ice cream? Wouldn't it be WRONG to coax her into eating it just as a favor to a friend? Gerald's face twists into devilish glee. Yeah! Yeah! That's the ticket.
WAIT. PIGGIE WILL LIKE THIS FLAVOR.
Gerald's good side takes over and he imagines a moment of satisfying sharing with his friend, momentarily oblivious of the single drop of melted ice cream which hits the pavement. But then...
HEY! PIGGIE WOULD NOT KNOW I HAVE ICE CREAM!
It's not wrong if Piggie never knows what she's missed, right? Gerald gets ready to gobble. But then his conscience finally prevails and he resolves to share the ice cream and make his best friend happy. Gerald is visibly relieved that his ethical struggle is over!
And then, PLOP! The blob of frozen delight at the top of the cone suddenly loses its own contest with thermal physics.
The object of this moral dilemma is now moot and melting on the pavement.
It is always a wonder the way Mo Willems builds deep human themes and emotions into an easy reader, with very limited vocabulary and seemingly so few strokes of the cartoonist's pen to work with, but in his just published Should I Share My Ice Cream? (An Elephant and Piggie Book) (Elephant & Piggie Books) (Hyperion, 2011), he indeed does it again. This latest is less slapstickingly funny than some in the series, but poignantly ironic and subtle. Willems provides the final irony in the last pages, with Piggie charging excitedly onto the left-hand page, innocent of any knowledge of the titanic crisis of conscience which has just occurred, but bearing a choice chocolate cone which she cheerfully offers to share with Gerald. Gerald is totally consternated at this outcome and silently muses upon what has just happened:
THAT WASN'T MY PLAN.
OH, WELL....THIS WORKS TOO.
If only all of life's dilemmas could end in ice cream.