A Big Guy Took My Ball!



Sweet, funny story spotlights the trouble with assumptions.

What parents need to know

Educational value
In addition to a terrific lesson on misunderstandings, A Big Guy Took My Ball! reinforces comparative size concepts (bigger and smaller).
Positive messages

Things are not always what they seem, Gerard and Piggie learn. Assumptions lead to misunderstandings, but just a little friendly conversation can clear things up and lead to fun.

Positive role models

Piggie turns to his friend for help. Based on what Piggie tells him, Gerard wants to stand up for his friend (though his attitude is overly confrontational). The whale assumes the pair meant well, which opens up an opportunity for all of them to become friends. When Piggie and Gerard realize what happened, they warmly invite the whale to play with them.

Violence & scariness
Gerard appears ready to fight on his friend's behalf, if necessary, but loses his nerve.
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that A Big Guy Took My Ball! is a clever look at how assumptions fuel misunderstandings and conflict. It's a funny story of a playground mixup that kids from preschool to elementary school can relate to. The publisher recommends it for ages 6 and up, but the humor and themes are good for kids as young as 4.

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What's the story?

Piggie is delighted to have found a big bouncy ball at the playground, but then some big guy takes it away. Heartbroken, she begs her very big friend, the elephant Gerard, to get it back for her. The injustice angers Gerard, and he marches across the playground, vowing, "Let's see how big this 'big guy' is!" Very, very big, it turns out: The ball is in the fins of a gigantic whale. Cowed, Gerard slinks back to Piggie and confesses he chickened out. The friends are interrupted by the whale's booming voice -- thanking them for finding his little ball.



Is it any good?

A BIG GUY TOOK MY BALL! is a smart and funny take on playground conflict with a sweet lesson even grown-ups sometimes struggle to remember. Mo Willems' endearing Elephant and Piggie show how making negative assumptions about other people can lead to hurt feelings and worse, while the whale shows how presuming the best can lead to good things.
Willems sets off his charming illustrations with a simple white background. Varying capitalization and typeface sizes make it an especially fun and easy read-aloud for beginning readers.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Piggie and Gerard's assumptions lead them to misunderstand the situation. How could they have avoided all this turmoil?
  • When Gerard hears Piggie's tearful tale, he gets angry and prepares to confront the big guy who took the ball. What else could he and Piggy have done?
  • Piggie and Gerard realize the situation looks completely different from the whale's perspective. Parents can talk with children about empathy and considering someone else's point of view.

Book details

Author:Mo Willems
Illustrator:Mo Willems
Topics:Friendship, Ocean creatures, Wild animals
Book type:Fiction
Publication date:May 21, 2013
Number of pages:64
Publisher's recommended age(s):6 - 8
Read aloud:4 - 8
Read alone:6 - 8
Available on:Paperback, Hardback
Award:ALA Best and Notable Books

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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