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I Broke My Trunk! by Mo Willems

Fun for Beginning Readers

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating

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Cover art for I Broke My Trunk by Mo Willems
Hyperion Books for Children
I Broke My Trunk! is the 14th book in the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems about two unlikely best friends. Gerald, an elephant, tells the “long crazy” story about how he broke his trunk to Piggie very, very slowly, which drives Piggie crazy. Beginning readers eight years and younger will enjoy this humorous adventure with the unlikely but lovable friends.

The Story and Illustrations

Although Gerald is slow in getting to the point on how he broke his trunk, like a good friend, Piggie is a patient listener. Could it be true that he lifted Hippo, Rhino, sister of Hippo, and a piano on his trunk? This highly engaging story delivers a punch line that is laugh-out-loud funny. Like all the books in the series, I Broke My Trunk! has a funny plot, great characters, and limited and repetitive word choice.

With few lines, the illustrations of Mo Willems masterfully convey the characters’ feelings without the need for many words. The large font and white space give the new reader's eyes a rest. Speech bubbles locate the text in this series and the blue bubbles in I Broke My Trunk! note the flashback story of Gerald the Elephant.

Author and Illustrator Mo Willems

Since his first book in 2003, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, Mo Willems has been recognized with numerous awards that few other authors/illustrators will achieve in a lifetime. He was awarded Caldecott Honors in 2004 for Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, in 2005 for Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale and in 2008 for Knuffle Bunny Too. Mo Willems received the 2008 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for There Is A Bird On Your Head and the 2009 Geisel Award for Are You Ready to Play Outside?, top awards for excellence in beginning reader books.

In addition, he received Geisel Honors for We Are In A Book in 2011 and I Broke My Trunk! in 2012. Willems, who has written over three dozen books, attributes his success in writing for children to his nine years as an animator and writer for the children’s TV show Sesame Street , for which he was honored with six Emmys. The "rock star" of kiddie lit lives in Northampton, Massachusetts with his wife and daughter. (Sources: Gazette.com 5/21/10, Mo Willems official site, Mo Willems doodles blog)

I Broke My Trunk! - My Recommendation

Although preschoolers will enjoy having this story read to them, beginning readers will be reading this story on their own in a short time. I Broke My Trunk! and the other Elephant and Piggie Books are not boring like the Dick and Jane series from the past. With I Broke My Trunk!, beginning readers will become excited about reading as they add emphasis to the question marks and exclamation points. Sharing the ups and downs of Elephant and Piggie will bring many giggles and fun to your reading time. I recommend I Broke My Trunk! for ages 4 to 8. (Hyperion Books for Children, 2011. ISBN: 9781423133094)

Encouraging Reading: Tips and Resources

It's important to have a home in which reading is important. Watch the About.com video Make Your Home a Reading-Friendly Environment for tips on how to accomplish this. The article Decorating A Reading Nook provides low-cost tips on creating an area in your home where you can read aloud to your children and where they can read as they get older.

The public library provides many wonderful resources to encourage reading. You can also Save Money at Your Public Library, not only by borrowing, instead of buying, books, but also by participating in the free children's programs. One of my favorites, the summer reading program at the library, will help you keep your children reading throughout the summer. For more tips, see 10 Ways to Help You Raise Kids Who Love Reading.

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