Title: The Thank You Book
Author: Mo Willems
Illustrator: Mo Willems
Publication Date: May 3, 2016
Audience: Ages 3 – 8
Summary: Elephant Gerald, a natural worrier, and Piggie, a confident optimist, sit back to back as Piggie says, “I am one lucky pig. I am going to thank everyone who is important to me.” To Gerald this is a red flag. “You will leave someone important out.” But Piggie assures Gerald that this will be a thank-o-rama and he begins to thank all the characters that have shared their books: the penguin and his ice cream, the squirrels, the bats, the flies, the worm, the snake, the bear, the birds. Piggie is having a wonderful time until Gerald reminds him he has forgotten someone important. It takes Piggie a moment to realize that he has not thanked Gerald; this is not what Gerald had in mind. Piggie has not thanked their readers. With that taken care of, Piggie returns to their original position saying, “I am one lucky pig.”
Literary elements at work in the story: Mo Willems has produced twenty-five Elephant and Piggie books, both perfect read-aloud books for the young and beginning readers for those slightly older. This book is a review of the characters that have been part of these stories. Many children will have read all or almost all of these books and will recognize the characters that Piggie is thanking. The Pigeon, it should be noted, until now has appeared only on the end pages. Gerald and Piggie will in the future introduce a new series of easy readers by different authors so in a way their adventures are at an end. This book relies on the same simple sentences, cartoon like drawings, Piggie’s exaggerated emotions, and varied print.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? Not applicable.
Theological Conversation Partners: Psalm 50:14 reminds us that thanksgiving is the sacrifice acceptable to God. Paul reminds us (Philippians 3:6) to make our prayers with thanksgiving. Jesus took bread, broke it and gave thanks. (Matt 26:26) Thanksgiving is central to the Christian life. Biblically and historically, those who know God give thanks. The Thank You Book is a wonderful opportunity to give children practice in this basic Christian attitude. They may want to give thanks for Mo Willem and his delightful books but this is only the beginning. Helping readers focus on thanksgiving is a necessary practice in nurturing a thankful heart. There is nothing more important in the growth of the Christian life than saying “thank you”, being, as Piggie says, “a thanking machine.” Thanks need to be offered to others and to God. There may be an occasion to look at the hymn “Now Thank We All Our God” and the story behind it’s writing. (It was written by Martin Rinkhart, a pastor who served during the 30 years of religious war and plague of 1737, had as many as 4,000 funerals a year, one of them his wife. He wrote this hymn for his children to sing when they had food on the table.)
Faith Talk Questions:
- Which Gerald and Piggie books are you thankful for?
- Is there someone in the church to whom you want to say “thank you?”
- Think of things for which you are thankful
- Think of people for whom you are thankful
- Think of things that you know about God for which you are thankful.
- Find some new words to give thanks to God for food, some different words for expressing thanks.
- Paul says to give thanks in every situation. Can you think of some situations when it would be hard to say thanks?
- Thanking, being a thanking machine, takes practice. Make a plan to notice good events and people several times during the day. Perhaps, breakfast, lunch, supper, bed time. On special occasions: vacation, holidays, birthdays.
This review is written by alumna and regular contributor Virginia Thomas.
The Thank You Book by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.