|Robb's Rambling Reviews
Of course you and I would be more than happy to share ice cream with our best friend, (well, I may think twice if it were Blue Bell) but for our pal Elephant, this is a big decision! Mo Willems’ Should I Share My Ice Cream helps young readers take a step from being centered on self, to having empathy for others. Although the theme of friendship permeates the entire Elephant and Piggie series, a lesson about sharing, and of doing the right thing simply because it’s the right thing to do, takes center stage in this installment. Just like his audience, Elephant knows the answer to his own question, and just like his audience, he also tries to justify his feelings about why he should share, and why he doesn’t need to. I’m glad to say that not only do thinks work out in the end, but that young readers will be treated to a few laughs along the way while they are learning a very important life lesson.
As with all Willems’ books in this series, he is both writer and illustrator. And, as will the other titles, he uses the same comic strip layout to tell his story. Young readers will find the text even more accessible with Willems’ use of simple color and vast areas of blank space. The use of familiar shapes and simple line drawings makes the story easy to follow, and adds and air of both uncomplicatedness and whimsy to the tale as well, as do the simple facial expressions on Elephant’s face as he runs the gamut of emotions from bewilderment to greed to gladness to sorrow. Poor Elephant, the struggle is real!
Another interesting method employed by Willems is the use of speech bubbles for the characters’ dialogue. Introducing children to this concept is further assisted by color coding the bubbles to the color of each character. Yes, you guessed it….Elephant’s bubbles are grey, while Piggie’s are pink. Not only does this help beginning readers understand a new concept, but it also furthers their understanding of the comic strip genre of writing. As new readers become comfortable with these easy readers, they will have no difficulty in moving into graphic novels or other dialogue driven books.
Should I Share My Ice Cream is now my favorite book in the series of Elephant and Piggie books, but not for the reason you may think. After reading Should I Share My Ice Cream, I gave a copy to my niece to add to her collection of the series. As an only child I thought the idea of learning to share and having empathy for others would be a home run with my little first grader. Several days after my niece received her book, I got a call from my sister-in-law, who was laughing uncontrollably. Apparently she and my niece were reading together in the den and after much indecision on Elephant’s part of whether to share the ice cream or not, my niece said rather loudly “Just eat the damn ice cream already!” My brother-in-law, who was in the kitchen raised his voice and asked here she had heard such a word before. My sister-in-law said she sheepishly raised her hand and said “From Momma.” Apparently they all broke down laughing, and still laugh every time she reads it. So whether it’s a lesson on sharing, or friendship, or not cussing like mommy, Should I Share My Ice Cream succeeds in delivering its message to young readers in a fun filled way.
Until I sat with a young, beginning reader I didn’t understand the draw of the books to their audience. It didn’t take long for me to understand that the simplicity of their message along with the uncomplicated artwork draw the youngsters in. With easy to read dialogue and silly, yet endearing characters, Should I share My Ice Cream is a great way to introduce the concept of sharing, or simply a great read about friendship. It’s such a great memory in my life that I bought my own copy for my library. I smile each time I pass by.
Citation: Willems, M. (2011). Should I share my ice cream? New York, NY: Hyperon.