Review of Harold & Hog Pretend for Real!

Harold & Hog Pretend for Real! [Elephant & Piggie Like Reading!]
by Dan Santat; illus. by the author; with additional illustrations by Mo Willems
Primary    Hyperion    64 pp.    g
5/19    978-1-368-02716-8    $9.99

Santat takes the already-meta Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! series to new heights of self-awareness in this easy reader starring Harold and Hog, themselves a pachyderm and porcine pair, more realistically drawn than Willems’s. Harold suggests to Hog that they pretend to be Gerald and Piggie. He pops an over-snout pig nose on Hog while he himself dons glasses and tries to act like Gerald — the joke being that Harold, the exuberant one with all the big ideas and who looks like Gerald, is as un-Gerald-like as they come, and that Hog, skeptical and tentative throughout, and who resembles Piggie, is nothing like her. Santat ups the ante in a very Gerald-and-Piggie-ish way as the friends falsely conclude that since “we are NO GOOD at being Elephant and Piggie…WE CANNOT BE BEST FRIENDS!” Amidst the riotousness are welcome messages about appearances, behavior, relationships, and expectations; and young readers will likely, and satisfyingly, arrive at the right conclusion before the panicky pals do. A not-unexpected but still very clever cameo at the end adds to the fun.

From the May/June 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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