We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems, 2010
The term “meta” gets thrown around a lot lately, but We Are in a Book! utilizes the self-aware technique with delightfully clever wit. The book is part of the popular Elephant and Piggie children’s series and opens with the title characters looking out at the reader until they eventually figure out someone is reading them! As they become aware that they are in a book, Piggie realizes she can make the reader say something silly if they are reading aloud. After having fun with the reader, Elephant Gerald becomes distressed by the reality that the book will end. Piggie manages to calm Gerald down with an idea though, and it brilliantly connects back to the first page.
We Are in a Book! fabulously executes its metafiction concept in simple yet effective ways. The illustrations and writing keep the focus on the characters, and with such excellent dialogue no more is needed. Piggie’s excitement and ideas are a great driving force for the plot, but Gerald’s existential crisis is especially hilarious and the perfect way to lead into the ending. The author/illustrator Mo Willems has won many awards for his work and rightfully received a Theodore Seuss Geisel Honor for this book. Most Elephant and Piggie stories have wonderful supporting characters, but We Are in a Book! makes the reader the most important character and that results in a uniquely fun read for all ages.