A Matter of Taste: I Really Like Slop! by Mo Willems
"PIGS REALLY REALLY LIKE SLOP.
IN FACT, EATING SLOP IS PART OF PIG CULTURE."
Perky Piggie is proud! She's produced a product which is the prototype of swine cuisine.
Her bowl of slop is green, and viscous, odoriferous, redolent of old shoes, everything you might expect of it, and for that final touch of authenticity--it has flies circling it.
"THE FLIES ARE HOW YOU KNOW IT'S RIPE!" SHE REPORTS.
"SHOULD IT SMELL LIKE THAT?" GERALD DUBIOUSLY ASKS.
Oh, yeah, Piggie insists. This slop is the real deal. It's the ultimate gourmet creation of her tribe. Would Gerald like to try it?
Of course he wouldn't! Gerald the elephant is clearly nauseated at the idea. It looks disgusting and smells even worse. But he can intuit that his best friend is totally invested in sharing the signature dish of the pig people. Friendship is on the line.
Gerald screws his courage to the sticking point. With his trunk he delicately extracts a tiny bite of the noxious potion. As a smiling Piggie looks on expectantly, with eyes squeezed tight, Gerald slowly moves the pea-green pearl of slop closer and closer to his tongue.
Gerald's reaction to the taste of slop goes on for several pages, with all the usual comic book squiggles and flops, tear-popping, X-shaped eyes, and nauseous spirals as the sensation overwhelms him. But when he can finally stand and his normal color returns, he turns to Piggie with a pronouncement:
"I DO NOT REALLY LIKE SLOP.
BUT I AM GLAD I TRIED IT
BECAUSE I REALLY LIKE YOU!"
Greater love hath no man, er, elephant, than to try a native food that makes him sick at the very sight of it, and in Mo Willems' latest in his outstanding and best-selling beginner reader series, I Really Like Slop! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) (Hyperion Books, 2015), Mo Willems takes on that most personal of tastes, food, as a test of friendship. Whether you love chestnut stuffing but are grossed out by oysters in the dressing in your holiday turkey, there are those times when eating something s-t-r-a-n-g-e is a test of acceptance, even love.
Picky eaters will all be in Gerald's camp in this one, but all sorts of eaters will be moved by Piggie's genuine eagerness to share with her friend. It is impossible not to rave about Mo Willems' subtle but hilarious cartooning skills, so skillful that the pictures alone tell the story, but the insight he reveals in the spare text of the story always feels just right--heartwarming and honest and so human. A true master of the beginning reader genre, Willems is clearly the equal of its creator, Dr. Seuss. Thank you, Mo!