“Elephant and Piggie Peer Into the Void”: David Plotz on Mo Willems’s We Are In A Book!, which for him is “the most existentially terrifying kids’ book ever written,” and “arguably the most disturbing book published in America since The Road.”
"As We Are in a Book! begins, Gerald and Piggie are hanging out doing nothing. Piggie suddenly notices that someone is watching them. That someone, Piggie realizes, is you, ‘a reader!’ They couldn’t be happier. ‘We are in a book!’ They explode into spasms of joy. They discover that if they say a word, you, the reader, say it too. Piggie says, ‘banana,’ so you say, ‘banana.’ Gerald laughs uproariously.
Then Piggie asks Gerald if he too would like to say a word ‘before the book ends.’ ‘ENDS!?!’ Gerald cries. ‘The book ends?!’ Piggie replies that all books end. Gerald is stricken by panic, then existential dread. On Page 46, he asks Piggie when the book will end. When Piggie answers it will end on page 57, Gerald freaks out even more. Each time the page turns, Gerald gets more and more worked up, filled with terror about what is coming, ‘This book is going too fast! I have more to give!’ Finally, in tiny letters on page 52, Gerald whispers, ‘I just want to be read.’”