Scott Beck, Author . Dutton $14.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-525-47040-3

Any child who has faced a mother's birthday with the best of intentions and no resources should find a kindred spirit in Beck's (Pepito the Brave) Little Pig. The series of spreads harks back to 1930s–1940s era children's books, with their crisp, simple shapes and bold ochre, rusty red and spring-green palette. The bright-eyed porker hero locates several likely prospects for his mother's gift, only to be told someone else has already laid claim to them. On the verge of picking a pretty flower, he's stopped by a bee: "That flower is my favorite.... Please don't take it." A mud pie for mom gets squelched when the farmer's wife tells him, "That dirt is for my garden." Just when it looks like Little Pig has no options, he discovers that his willingness to respect the things that are important to others has paid off. The bee shows gratitude by giving him honey, the farmer's wife thanks him with bread, and the others follow suit. Ultimately, Little Pig assembles a delicious birthday slop for his mother: "Do you know, it was just what she wanted." Beck's second book may not exhibit the winning buoyancy of his debut work (unlike plucky Pepito, the genially plump Little Pig is a mild-mannered, reactive protagonist) but the bright pictures have an amiable, unaffected appeal, and the author conveys a worthwhile moral without overwhelming his story. Ages 2-6. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 12/23/2002
Release date: 03/01/2003
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