Let’s Go for a Drive by Mo Willems

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Willems, Mo. Let’s Go for a Drive.  Hyperion Books for Children, 2012.  $8.99, 57 pages.

Link to Author’s Website: http://www.mowillems.com/

Links to Interviews with Author:

Links to Reviews Available Online:

Reader’s Annotation: Piggie and Elephant make plans to go for a drive.

Summary:

Piggie and Gerald the elephant decide to go for a drive.  Gerald emphasizes the need for a plan.  Included in his plan are all of the things that the two friends will  need for a drive.  This includes a map, umbrella, sunglasses, and bags to keep all of the stuff they need for their drive.  Once they are packed, Gerald realizes that they still need one more thing for their drive…a car!  Since neither has a car, and before Gerald can panic too much more, Piggie suggests they play pirates instead.  And play pirates they do.

Evaluation:

Characteristic of Mo Willems’ work, Let’s Go for a Drive features two familiar friends, Gerald the elephant and Piggie, a problem to solve, and lots of silliness.   The catchy rhythm and silly repetition of words and sounds makes this a good book for early readers. The liberal use of exclamation points amps up the energy of this book.  Willems’ signature illustrations add to the silliness of Gerald and Piggie.  Their emotions are clearly expressed in their facial expressions and body language.  Gerald’s close to hysterics is apparent in the illustrations toward the end.  Their antics are entertaining, as is their final solution to the problem of no car, making this quite an enjoyable read.

Rating Scale:

  • Popularity: 4
  • Quality: 3

Genre and Subgenre: fiction, easy reader

Appeal Factors: humor, illustrations, friends, animals, use of imagination

Readalike Titles or Authors:

  • New Socks by Bob Shea
  • Can You Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas
  • My Friend is Sad by Mo Willems

Awards Won and Book Lists:

  • Theodor Seuss Geisel Award

Booktalking Ideas:

  • The need for a plan
  • All of the things they need to drive

Book Discussion Questions or Ideas:

  • Why do they need so many things for their drive?
  • What would you need for a drive?
  • How have they incorporated the items they needed for a drive into playing pirates?

Why I Chose This:

I chose this title because I wanted to read one of Mo Willems’ books.  My son and I had listened to a different Elephant and Piggie story at a library story time, and I liked the two friends’ energy.

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Bink and Gollie by Kate Dicamillo

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DiCamillo, Kate & Alison McGhee.  Bink & Gollie.  Candlewick Press, 2010.  $15.99, 96 pages.

Link to Author’s Website:

Links to Interviews with Author:

Links to Reviews Available Online:

Reader’s Annotation:  Bink is short and spunky.  Gollie is tall and sophisticated.  Despite their obvious differences, the two are the very best of friends.

Summary:

Bink and Gollie is split into three short stories.  The first story features Bink and Gollie dealing with compromise over a pair of outrageously bright stripped socks that Bink purchases.  In the end, Gollie compromises by bringing Bink half a stack of pancakes, while Bink compromises by taking off one of her brightly colored socks to be flown as a flag.  The second story shows Gollie’s need for personal time to herself, with a sign on her door not to be bothered. As Gollie climbs to the top of the Andes mountains, Bink cannot believe that she does not want her come in.  Finally, Gollie has had enough time to herself, and invites Bink in to share in her adventures.  The third features Gollie’s jealousy of Bink’s pet fish Fred, who she fears is Bink’s new marvelous companion.  When Fred’s life is in peril because of a roller skating accident, Gollie saves Fred by throwing him in the pond.  Gollie and Bink’s friendship is reiterated, and six months later, Fred is seen following the two best friends under the ice they are skating on.

Evaluation:

A charming portrayal of two odd-ball friends Bink and Gollie.  From the illustrations that show them to be completely different, with Bink’s short and wild blonde frizz to Gollie’s straight tresses tamed with a red bow to the vocabulary words that Gollie uses that confuse Bink, these two girls are completely different.  What brings them and their stories together, however, are their love of roller skating, pancakes, adventure, and each other.  Although the three stories are not related, there are elements that bring a cohesiveness to the book as a whole.  The striped socks from the first story are brought back as a flag in the second, and what appears to be Bink’s scarf in the third.  Pancakes make a reappearance in the last story, and Bink and Gollie share a sandwich in the second.  The use of color also highlights different parts of the stories.  The setting and scenery appear mostly in black and white and gray.  The color comes with the girls and key objects like the pancakes, Fred the Fish, and the obscenely bright socks.  This underscores the idea of the two friends standing out and apart from the world around them.  They make the energy and life sparkle around them.  If not for each other, their lives would also be dark and gray.  Overall, Bink and Gollie tells the tales of two girls who, although very different, are the best of friends.

Rating Scale:

  • Popularity:1 – Would sit on shelves unread; 2 – May see the light of day as an assigned reading; 3 – Interesting to readers, may need marketing; 4 – Very appealing read, ; 5 – Need multiple copies, because it would always be checked out!
  • Quality: 1 – How was this book ever published?; 2 – Poor literary quality; 3 – Average literary quality, nothing stands out as exceptional; 4 – Overall high quality literary quality, with certain areas of exceptional literary quality; 5 – Well-crafted of the highest literary quality
  • Popularity: 4
  • Quality: 3

Genre and Subgenre:  Easy reader

Appeal Factors:  simple vocabulary, spunky characters, use of imagination, friendship, illustrations

Readalike Titles or Authors:

  • Pinky and Rex and the Perfect Pumpkin
  • Henry and Mudge and the Big Sleepover
  • Starring Jules (as Herself)

Awards Won and Book Lists:

  • 2011 Notable Children’s Books
  • Newbery Honor Book

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Bink’s atrocious socks
  • The sign left out on Gollie’s door when she wants to be left alone
  • Gollie grabbing Fred and stuffing him in her jacket pocket

Book Discussion Questions or Ideas:

  • What do you do when you want alone time?  How do you explain that to your friends?
  • Who do you relate more with: Bink or Gollie?
  • How do we know that Bink and Gollie are the very best of friends?

Why I Chose This:

I chose this title because of how differently the two girls are portrayed and yet they are still very good friends.  I also liked the world that they inhabit.  They are able to play and imagine and function without an adult hovering in the background.  Bink’s character is also adorable with her crazy hair and spunky attitude.