Growing Reader

10 Delightful Books for Kids Who Love Elephant and Piggie

by Lindsay Barrett

When Mo Willems announced that his 25th Elephant and Piggie book, The Thank You Book, would be the last in the series, fans breathed a collective dejected sigh. These titles delight readers in so many ways, from their expressive dialogue, positive messages, playful illustrations, and of course, the endearing characterization of the duo at the series’ heart. Fear not: If you and your kids love Elephant and Piggie’s hilarious, relatable antics, YOU’LL LOVE THESE BOOKS, TOO!!!!! (We were channeling our inner Gerald, there.)

  • Rex Wrecks It!

    by Ben Clanton

    This title checks many boxes for Elephant and Piggie fans even though it’s of traditional picture book size and length. Robot Gizmo, unicorn-bunny Sprinkles, and fluffy monster Wild are always so proud of the block structures they create together. Too bad Rex can’t help himself from thundering in and wrecking everything! The pals engage in some creative problem-solving to navigate the common childhood conundrum of how to reach a compromise. (Also, be sure not to miss the companion title Boo Who?, in which the same sweet characters make a new friend.)

  • Croc and Ally Series

    by Derek Anderson

    Croc tends to be grumpy and particular, while Ally favors sunny optimism, but they do agree on one thing: Friends are important. In Friends Forever, the first installment of the series, three simple but enjoyable stories help early readers get to know these new characters. Also check out Croc and Ally: Fun, Fun, and Fun!

  • Fergus and Zeke

    by Kate Messner, illustrated by Heather Ross

    This series debut centers around a likable pair of friends. It’s a perfect option for when developing readers are ready for more text. Four illustrated chapters introduce Fergus, the pet mouse in Miss Maxwell’s class, and describe his fortuitous meeting of a “buddy,” Zeke, on a school field trip to the museum. When the two new friends get carried away exploring, will Fergus be able to make it back to the bus in time to return to class?

  • Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea (A Narwhal and Jelly Book #1)

    by Ben Clanton

    If you haven’t met the lovable sea creatures in this early graphic novel series yet, you’re in for a treat. When Narwhal and Jelly first encounter each other, they both wonder if their imaginations are playing tricks on them. Their new friendship is good enough to be true, though. The pair share easy conversation as they swap seaworthy facts, plan parties, and celebrate a shared love of waffles. The final vignette drops hints about the next installment in the series, encouraging readers to come back for more.

  • Hey, Duck!

    by Carin Bramsen

    Just like Elephant and Piggie, Duck and Cat are very different. Cat would rather be left alone to peacefully nap, but the ever-enthusiastic bird is determined to be friends and hang out just as BFFs do. After much back and forth, Cat finally tells the little duckling to shove off … until the feline starts to miss Duck and starts to wonder if maybe, just maybe, they have more in common than it first seemed.

  • Warren & Dragon Series

    by Ariel Bernstein, illustrated by Mike Malbrough

    The appeal of themes around friendship, humor, and navigation of childhood predicaments endure as children transition to early chapter books. This new series stars twins Ellie and Warren Nesbitt, along with Warren’s marshmallow-loving pet, Dragon. In Weekend with Chewy, the Nesbitt family moves to a new town and Warren pledges to step out of his comfort zone to make lots of new friends. In 100 Friends, he learns another important childhood lesson: Quality matters more than quantity.

  • I Don’t Want to Be a Frog

    by Dev Petty, illustrated by Mike Boldt

    Frog does not want to be a frog anymore — he can’t help but imagine all the fun he’d have if he were another animal instead. Fortunately, little Frog’s father (as well as a hungry wolf who eats everything but frogs) is there to remind him that being a frog has its own perks too. The conversation between Frog and his dad will have kids howling with laughter while also thinking about why it’s so important to accept and appreciate yourself, no matter what.

  • What Is Chasing Duck?

    by Jan Thomas

    Like Mo Willems, Jan Thomas succeeds in conveying plenty of comic nuance with broad pen strokes and minimalist speech bubbles in her Giggle Gang series. In this installment, Duck dashes frantically across each page, fleeing an unknown pursuant. Sheep and Donkey can’t help but be terrified, too, but Dog encourages them to be brave. A surprise ending will keep young readers giggling until the final page.

  • NOPE

    by Drew Sheneman

    Lots of things can feel scary when you’re a little kid — even though Mama Bird thinks Baby Bird is ready to leave the nest, the little bird isn’t quite convinced that flying is a good idea (“Nope!”) and that it could, in fact, end very badly. This picture book from the creator of Don’t Eat That has just a few words, but the giggle-inducing illustrations and relatable themes will pack a big punch for young readers who are trying something new.

  • My Kite Is Stuck! And Other Stories

    by Salina Yoon

    Readers will enjoy the cheerful speech bubbles and bright illustrations in this trio of tales about pals Big Duck, Little Duck, and Porcupine. The vignettes portray classic childhood experiences: a toy mishap, making new friends, and having a lemonade stand. They each include plenty of humorous negotiation and a chuckle-worthy unexpected twist at the end.