Gerald the elephant and Piggie return with another playground psychodrama, this one with a twist.
Piggie just loved the big ball she just found—“it was so fun!”—but the fun was short-lived, as the titular “big guy came—and—and—and— / HE TOOK MY BALL!” Piggie’s distress is so great Gerald is literally bowled over. “That is not right!” he declares. “What makes those big guys think they are so big?!” “Their size?” suggests Piggie. Gerald stalks off the page to give the big guy what-for, but…the big guy is “very BIG.” In fact, the big guy is a land-going whale, who first thanks Piggie for finding his “little ball” and then laments that no one will play with him because of his extreme size: “LITTLE GUYS HAVE ALL THE FUN.” (The whale speaks in all-uppercase letters, though the font changes with his mood; the previous sentence is printed in tiny, all-capped type.) This morality play in false assumptions and relativity unfurls with Willems’ customary command of visual pacing; gags are spaced just right to keep the pages turning and readers giggling. His deft exploitation of comic-book conventions sets speech balloons to overlapping and appropriately varying in size.
Nineteen books and five Geisel medals or honors along, Elephant and Piggie are still delivering funny, emotionally perceptive stories for just-emerging readers. As the big guy says: “BIG FUN!” (Early reader. 5-8)