Caution: Prepare for Surprises

Mo Willems may not be a household name, but he should be. This author/illustrator does it all.  He thrills, entertains and makes you laugh all with only a few words per page and simple characters and scenes.  If you want a quick treat, grab any of his Elephant & Piggy books at a bookstore and prepare for amusement.   In That is NOT a Good Idea!, Willems offers a cautionary tale with a modern twist.

That is NOT a Good Idea! by Mo Willems, 2013
That is NOT a Good Idea! by Mo Willems, 2013

Post format: Q&A

What is a cautionary tale?  A story in which a character disregards repeated warnings and suffers horribly in the end.  In Willems’s story, a sharp-dressed fox invites a plump goose for a stroll.  Adorably drawn baby geese continually chorus, “That is NOT a good idea” as their mother gets closer and closer to a boiling soup pot waiting at the fox’s home in the woods.

How is this tale modern?  Willems never goes for the obvious.  Many of my posts contain spoilers.  However, I won’t reveal the goose’s fate.  I will say it involves a missing soup ingredient.

What unique story device does this book feature?  Willems frames this book like a silent movie.  The characters are drawn broadly and the text pages are stark black with white lettering.  The style offers a great opportunity to introduce young readers to a real silent movie.  A clip of Buster Keaton had my students clapping and asking for more.

Bonus Bit:  If you’ve got four minutes to spare, watch the soulful-eyed Keaton at his best.

Question:  Do you have a favorite cautionary tale, old or modern?

*Click on comment button at the top of the post to reply.

4 thoughts on “Caution: Prepare for Surprises

  • March 13, 2016 at 10:19 am
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    Would the fox and the hare count?

    Reply
    • March 13, 2016 at 10:35 am
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      I’m not familiar with that particular one. The fox is a popular character in many of these kinds of tales.

      Reply
  • March 13, 2016 at 10:27 am
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    Great post, Mo Willems is one of my favorite childrens book authors. Do you know any other videos similar to the one above?

    Reply
    • March 13, 2016 at 10:37 am
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      Click on the Buster Keaton hyperlink in the post. It will take you to an excellent short documentary on him with wonderful clips.

      Reply

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