GRUNT

John Richardson, Author . Clarion $15 (, $15 ISBN ) ISBN 978-0-618-15974-1

The piglet protagonist of this tale of self-esteem is, outwardly, unimpressive: Wee-skin-and-bones has "crinkly-crumply" ears, a "tiddly-widdly button of a snout" and "absolutely no tail at all," and he can manage only a "teeny-tiny" grunt. Ignored by his father and teased by his more comely siblings, he runs away to the forest. There he's taken in by a kindly wild boar who personifies the power of a positive outlook: "I'm a bristly old scruff on the outside, but inside... Oooo... I'm a beauty!" The piglet revels in spending time with someone who values his company, yet he misses his kin; fortunately, his worried mother and siblings come to find him. Richardson's (illustrator of the Budgie books) watercolors are warmly and whimsically detailed, but the mood is constantly sunny despite the piglet's changing emotions. His surroundings look utterly welcoming, even the barnyard where he feels so rejected and the big dark forest where he feels scared and lonely. And when reunited with Wee-skin-and-bones, the piglet's mother "smother[s] her baby in a whole shower of kisses," but neither the father who previously "didn't seem to notice him at all" nor the unkind brothers and sisters ever articulate any kind of regret or affection. The newfound sense of family connection closes the book on a false note. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 02/04/2002
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-0-09-176908-6
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-0-09-943407-8
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