Book Review: I Will Surprise My Friend!
Scaring people is fun. There is really no getting around this fact. Kids know this better than anyone. Mo Willems knows that kids know this better than anyone. And now he’s gone and written a book about it. Fitting right in with previous “Elephant & Piggie” titles, “I Will Surprise My Friend” provides a situation kids will relate to, presented with playfulness, wit, and an ace sense of humor.
The story begins when Gerald (the Elephant) and Piggie come upon a squirrel who is about to surprise his friend. They like the idea so much they decide to give it a try on on each other. They creep up to opposite sides of a big rock and wait to get startled. This setup is ripe for some silliness. Gerald and Piggie both start to wonder where the other one is. They look around the rock at the same time – no one there. They walk around the rock at the same time – nothing. When our heroes finally give up and head out to find each other, they finally get the shock they were hoping for.
The author’s knack for getting inside the head of youngsters and seeing things from their perspective is on display here. From the way Gerald and Piggie immediately want to try something they see to how they end up waiting for the other one to scare them, beginning readers will identify with this title.
Willems continues to get his PHD in emotive minimalist illustration in “I Will Surprise My Friend”. Each page brings expressions and gestures that announce the mood of each character as clear as day. Similar to other titles in this series, the story is told completely through dialog in the form of word balloons. This makes it a good choice for some good ol’ individual reading. And kids will definitely want to read this one – be sure to have a couple copies on hand.
Find this book at your local library with WorldCat.
About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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