“Pigs really, really, really, really, really like slop!”
In fact, “eating slop is part of pig culture,” so when Gerald the elephant turns up his trunk at best friend Piggie’s reeking, green bowlful (“The flies are how you know it is ripe!”), she takes it very personally. Seeing her devastation, Gerald steels himself to “try a small taste,” using his trunk to transfer a tiny globule to a very reluctant tongue. A comedic four-page sequence ensues, in which Gerald’s disgust is dramatized with very un-elephantlike coloration, contortions, and many repetitions of “Urk!” (Turns out old shoes are the secret ingredient.) Willems exploits his audience’s familiarity with the beloved characters to deliver a humorous update of Green Eggs and Ham, combining it with a message about not just friendship and trying new things, but cross-cultural understanding. With cultural awareness an ever more prominent element of school curricula, it’s likely kids will understand it immediately. Picky eaters will see themselves in Gerald, and they will appreciate his bravery and generosity of spirit. Once he’s tasted it, Gerald confesses that he does not particularly like slop, but he’s glad he tried it: “Because I really like you,” he tells a pleased Piggie.
“Yummy” may be highly subjective, but friendship is transcendent. (Early reader. 4-8)