Maybe this is TMI for my legions of faithful readers, but in the last year or so, my younger girl has grown old enough to introduce a new stage of development to our house–namely, two girls getting the giggles together until one (or occasionally BOTH) of them has a slight accident. (It’s usually the younger, but not always.) I don’t mind the giggles, but I could do without the consequences; such, however, is life with children. This week, though, saw a new wrinkle in this development. For the first time, we read a picture book that induced enough giggling in my middle to cause problems. And while I wasn’t exactly pleased about the whole thing–the girlies’ pajama shorts happened to match, and they were excited about it–watching her giggle as we read the book was so fabulous that it actually made up for it. You know those belly giggles that come (uncontrollably) straight from the gut? Well, Mo Willems’ Can I Play Too? brought on a full-fledged fit of them.
In case you’re unfamiliar with Willems, he has at least three Caldecott Honor books and a whole slew of Geisel awards. I must confess, I found Knuffle Bunny amusing while not particularly enjoying the illustrations; the Pigeon books are funny as well, but I still resisted Willems for a long time. I suppose I tend more towards traditional illustrations, and so since his art wasn’t so much my thing, I didn’t pay much attention to how well it was done. I have a friend who is a staunch fan, however, and so I finally caved and checked out a couple of Elephant and Piggie books for the girlies. (The boy looks briefly, but since there are rarely wheels involved, they don’t hold his interest.) We’ve been through several, now–I think We Are in a Book! is one of my favorites–but none of them has made quite the hit that Can I Play Too? did. It’s hard to explain the plot without ruining some of the delight of discovery, so I will simply say this: my middle STILL (upon multiple readings) giggles uncontrollably at the “bonks”. What kills me about it is what Willems can accomplish with the illustrations I once scoffed at. They may be cartoony, and there may be a good bit of white space on most pages, but they are, nevertheless, brilliant. If you haven’t tried him, and you want to laugh, buy Can I Play Too? today.
(I don’t care if you have children or not–it really is that funny. I’m pretty sure my middle will be getting it for Christmas!)