Saturday, April 13, 2019


By Mo Willems

(Hyperion Books for Children, 2015)

Mo Willems is a genius. He takes simple, timeless concepts and makes them fresh and funny. In I Really Like Slop! Willems tackles food differences. Sometimes a certain dish from a foreign culture can make kids (and, yes, adults) cringe. It looks different, it smells different. Trying it is out of the question. Indeed, a strong negative reaction can make the person eating the dish feel pretty awful.

The meal at the center of this amusing book is Piggie’s titular slop and it’s hard to imagine a dish more polarizing. Elephant Gerald is outright repulsed. “YIKES!” he exclaims when seeing Piggie’s bowl of green glop. And then the judgy, “You EAT that!?”

Piggie is unfazed. “Pigs really, really, really, really, really like slop!”

Gerald remains critical. “What about all of those...flies?”

The flies,” Piggie says, “are how you know it is ripe!” 

Ah, but of course.

Gerald doesn’t want to hurt his friend’s feelings when offered a taste. Still, kids will easily relate to Gerald’s reticence. It takes twenty-one pages for Gerald to muster up the courage to try the teensiest, tiniest amount of slop. And, SPOILER ALERT, slop is no green eggs and ham and Gerald is no Sam I Am. Again, this is slop we’re talking about.

Just imagine Gerald’s response when Piggie offers up dessert.

The good news for humans is nothing will ever compare to slop. Not broccoli, not bok choy, not even frog’s legs. (Okay, well maybe frog’s legs!) The wonderful thing about Mo Willems’ series books is that the humor will surely make the dozens and dozens of repeated readings more than tolerable for adult ears. Moreover, how delightful it is to hear a young reader become more and more expressive with his or her oral reading. The added bonus of Piggie and Gerald books is that the dialogue bubbles are color coded, Piggie’s lines in pink, Gerald’s in gray. Adult and child can take turns playing the two characters during shared reads. What an opportunity for early positive reading experiences!

Now pass the slop.

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