Willems (Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!
) introduces two best friends in the paper-over-board Elephant & Piggie books: a naysaying gray bespectacled pachyderm and an optimistic pink porker, whose opposing temperaments serve as the bases for sparring and mutual understanding alike. When Piggie declares, "Today I Will Fly!
," Elephant responds, in Green Eggs and Ham
fashion: "You will not fly today./ You will not fly tomorrow./ .../ You will never fly!
" "I will try!" Piggie asserts. She gets assistance from a mock-ferocious bulldog, whose barking does help her to jump (but not fly), and an amiable pelican who demonstrates how friends can lend a hand (er, wing). Energetic Piggie dons a series of costumes (cowboy, clown, robot) to boost sulky Elephant's spirits in My Friend Is Sad
. Elephant does not cheer up until Piggie shows up sans
disguise: "I saw a cowboy
!... But you were not there to see him!
" Elephant laments. "I need my friends!" "You need new glasses...." Piggie whispers in an aside to readers, ending on a sly note. Willems treats each page (or spread) as one panel, so the action unfolds briskly against white backgrounds. He provides the emphatic dialogue in varying font sizes and keeps the design details simple but effective: Piggie's words appear in powdery rose-colored voice bubbles, Elephant's in pale blue-gray. Nevertheless, even inexperienced readers will not be busy long, whether or not they pause to chuckle at the dueling characters' changing facial expressions. Compared to Willems's more nuanced character studies, these episodes feel all too brief. Still, readers will likely clamor for more. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)