Alright … this is going to get awfully heavy for a children’s book.
Taken as a children’s book ‘We are in a Book’ is successful on all counts. The vocabulary is repeated without tedium while still managing to be expressed in context. The artwork is charming, the characters pleasantly quirky without being overt, and all in all the word bubble dynamic make it easy for a child to identify tone and conflict.
So, mechanically, this is a very well written children’s book.
Now to the overall plot … Gerald and Piggie are seen relaxing when one realizes that they are, in fact, being watched… by a reader. Yes, the book is completely meta. The two explore the power they have over the reader by making the reader say specific words. This also acts as a tutorial on how to read Mo Willems typical work.
Then it gets … AWESOME. Gerald finally catches wind that the book will end! ENDS?! THE BOOK ENDS!? While he is exploring the horror and helplessness of his own ceasing-to-be Piggie attempts to comfort him. The worrisome nature of death is apparent in the elephant’s expression, and the pig’s stoicism and light-hearted approach is the foil to this. The two characters literally have a masked discussion about how ‘all books must end.’
After Piggie peeks ahead a few pages (not unlike the most powerful of soothsayers) she devises a way in which Gerald and her can continue their existence… they need to be read again.
The reader, unable to decline the pleading request, feels compelled to read the book again from the beginning … only to find that that alarm of Gerald has not eased and the same solution has been reached! It is a Sisyphean endeavor! You must read the book endlessly for ALL TIME TO PREVENT THE END OF GERALD AND PIGGIE. Unlike the Buddhist wheel, they do not grow or diminish or reincarnate in any way different than their current iteration, leaving the reader in an inescapable causality loop!