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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Listen to My Trumpet, written and illustrated by Mo Willems. Hyperion, Hachette. 2012. $9.99 ages 3 and up

"Your trumpet is LOUD.

Your trumpet is shiny.

You, uh, hold your trumpet
very well.

What are you going to say to a friend about their musicianship? Our family tried very hard to be positive about Erin's violin dream. We still hold our ears when we talk about it, but we never discouraged her until her Dad finally wondered aloud if she was enjoying it at all. She didn't think it was the instrument for her. And she was right! It wasn't for us either.

Gerald is a wonderful friend and does not want to discourage Piggie from anything that she loves to do. She is so excited and pleased with herself about the trumpet and the sounds that she can make with it. Sitting on a stool so that he might enjoy her first concerto, Gerald is is astounded and 'blown away' by her attempts at mastering the instrument. He does his best to encourage her with as many compliments as he can comfortably give.

Her performance is so enthusiastic, and her music is so not musical. He can't tell the truth, and he can't make himself lie to her either. Finally, he tells her that the sound she is making is not really to be considered music, in his opinion. Imagine his surprise when he discovers that Piggie isn't trying to make music. She has another motive for the sounds she is making!

The story is hilarious, the message about friendship is heartfelt and in keeping with each of the other books about Gerald and Piggie, and Mo Willems continues to astound with his ability to create perfect texts for beginning readers. What joy there is in learning to read a story like this, and to then share it with everyone who will listen. Each of the seventeen books should have pride of place in the home libraries of every child three and up.

There are no surprises for kids when learning that Gerald is worried about hurting his friend's feelings, or that Piggie will be oblivious to the difficulty Gerald faces in telling her, or that the new book will be as hilarious as every other one. That is Mo Willems' great talent. Add to that what he can do with facial expression and body movement in seemingly simple cartoon-like artwork.

Another winner! Thank you, Mo Willems!

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