This meta–early reader begins (between the end pages and the title page) with the famous duo Elephant and Piggie expressing excitement about reading a book about a pig and an elephant who happen to be best friends, just like them.
Piggie holds a copy of Harold & Hog Pretend for Real!—which is identical to the book readers are holding, leading them to believe that the characters are reading the same book. Piggie and elephant Gerald then open the cover of the book just as elephant Harold and Hog push it open from the inside, and the story seamlessly shifts to the latter pair’s perspective. Harold and Hog—illustrated with depth and fairly realistically, compared to the cartoonlike Piggie and Gerald—are excited to see the famous duo, and Harold suggests they pretend to be them. Harold then produces round, wire-rimmed glasses for himself and a cartoon pig’s snout for Hog so that they can pretend “for real.” Unfortunately, Hog is “too CAREFUL to be Piggie,” and Harold is “too CAREFREE to be Gerald!” The question then arises: Can Harold and Hog’s friendship survive this game? Building on the popular Elephant and Piggie books and with the frame story contributed by Mo Willems, Santat creates yet another early reader that is at once playful, self-aware, and perceptive in its exploration of the differences of personalities and the complications (or simplicities) of friendship.
A hoot for readers who already know Elephant and Piggie. (Early reader. 5-8)