Book Review: THERE IS A BIRD ON YOUR HEAD! written and illustrated by Mo Willems

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Willems, Mo. 2007. THERE IS A BIRD ON YOUR HEAD! . Ill. by Mo Willems. New York: Hyperion Books for Children. ISBN 978-1-4231-0686-9

Mo Willems has written and illustrated an entertaining, silly, and easy-to-read masterpiece in his 2008 Geisel Award winning picture book THERE IS A BIRD ON YOUR HEAD! . This simple story is about best friends Elephant and Piggie.  Gerald the Elephant is horrified to learn that first one,  then TWO, love birds decide to alight and rest on the top of his cranium.  When the love birds decide to build a nest and start a family on his head, Gerald enlists the advice of his friend Piggie.  Piggie sagely advises Gerald to politely ask the birds to move somewhere else, with hilarious unintended consequences!  This simple, yet comical, caper has delighted young-children and early-readers everywhere.

This easy-reader picture book has a simple enough plot and language that early-readers should have no trouble deciphering it.  However, while some early-reader books remain “stilted and dry” in their simplicity, this story remains entertaining in its ridiculousness and hilarity (Vardell 2008, 46-47).  The American Library Association proclaimed the “balanced design of color-coordinated speech bubbles, expressive cartoon art and familiar vocabulary create an engaging, laugh-out-loud experience for young readers” (American Library Association 2008).  The white background and simple illustrations in this book draw attention to the text.  The speech bubbles portraying the character’s dialog are boldly and colorfully showcased prominently on each page. The characters act out the meaning of the text in the illustrations giving early readers both written and visual clues about the plot (Bird 2012).

PIGG

 

Enrichment Activities:

This story can easily become incorporated into lessons on assertiveness and friendship by initiating a conversation about the plot with children after finishing the story.  Mo Willems’ website “Pigeon Presents!” (http://www.pigeonpresents.com/grownup.aspx) contains teacher guides for many of his books including THERE IS A BIRD ON YOUR HEAD! . This website contains a free document called the “Elephant and Piggie Party Kit”.  In this Party Kit, story-time and circle-time ideas are given along with worksheets and suggested discussion question.

Animated Version of the Story:

What to Read Next:

Willems, Mo. 2003. DON’T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS!. Ill. by Mo Willems. New York: Hyperion Books for Children. ISBN 978-0786819881

Willems, Mo. 2010. CAN I PLAY TOO?. Ill. by Mo Willems. New York: Hyperion Books for Children. ISBN 978-1423119913

References

American Library Association. 2008. “Mo Willems wins Geisel Award for “THERE IS A BIRD ON YOUR HEAD! ”.”  January 14. Accessed January 19, 2014. http://www.ala.org/news/news/pressreleases2008/january2008/geisel08.

Bird, Elizabeth. 2012. “Top 100 Picture Books #60: THERE IS A BIRD ON YOUR HEAD!  by Mo Willems.” School Library Journal. May 25. Accessed January 19, 2014. http://blogs.slj.com/afuse8production/2012/05/25/top-100-picture-books-60-there-is-a-bird-on-your-head-by-mo-willems/.

Vardell, Sylvia M. 2008. CHILDREN’S LITERATURE IN ACTION: A LIBRARIAN’S GUIDE. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited.

Willems, Mo. 2007. THERE IS A BIRD ON YOUR HEAD!  New York: Hyperion Books for Children.

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