Piggy and Bunny, the charming chums from Geneviève Côté’s Me and You and Without You (winner of the 2012 Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award), take to the stage in the latest instalment of the series.
The pair rummages through a dress-up trunk and decides to put on a play. Bunny warily peeks from behind the clothesline curtain, too timid to perform. Piggy admits he is also shy, but instead of hiding, he fakes a smile. After getting their jitters out, Bunny says, “Now I’m all set! Let’s be sunflowers and sing a duet.” Piggy has a dramatically different idea for the play: “Argh! Let’s be pirates on a shipwreck.” An argument ensues, complete with angry grumbles and pouts, kicks and shouts. Stopping for a moment, the two friends exchange remorseful glances. Together they reach a clever compromise: Bunny offers to learn a pirate song and Piggy vows to be the scariest flower ever.
Bunny and Piggy’s conversation flows naturally with an engaging patter that is great fun to read aloud. Each character has a distinct voice enhanced by the use of varied typefaces. The minimalist text deftly conveys how the two friends experience the same emotions but express them differently: “When I’m scared, I freeze like this”; “Oh, when I’M scared, I SCREAM like this.”
Côté’s accomplished mixed-media illustrations also capture this dichotomy. With ears drooping low and body curled, Bunny’s quiet anguish over their spat is palpable. Piggy’s sadness comes in waves of blustery weeping and open-mouthed wailing. A skittish butterfly and a cheeky frog appear on every page, offering visual commentary on the action. The butterfly gently alights on the bunny’s toe and when the piggy’s teardrops start to spray, the frog comically holds up an amphibian-patterned umbrella.
Starring Me and You is an applause-worthy exploration of friendship and emotion. Here’s hoping there’s another encore for these two loveable characters.