cover image Hog-Eye


Susan Meddaugh. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-395-74276-1

The creator of Martha the talking dog (Martha Speaks; Martha Calling) deftly spins a fairy tale about a modern piglet who outwits a big bad wolf. ``Yesterday, my whole family met me at the door. They wanted to know why I didn't go to school,'' the narrator begins. She proceeds to relate a harrowing story of catching the wrong bus and disembarking near some deep dark woods. The mother pig swoons to hear that her daughter was captured by a wolf, but the others are transfixed as the youngster explains how she escaped being made into soup. The wolf, it seems, cannot read, and he allows the pig to list soup ingredients (among them ``Green Three-Leaf,'' aka poison ivy) from a cookbook (actually a volume titled ``EZ Car Care''). ``Hog-Eye'' is the name of the ``spell'' the piglet casts, just as the ivy triggers the wolf's uncontrollable itching. As in the Martha books, Meddaugh expertly controls the pace by alternating text and droll voice-bubble asides. The wolf-related action is rendered primarily in large images, while the piglet and her shocked family appear in smaller watercolors at the foot of the page. Even as she shows that the imperiled pig has lived to tell her tale, the author maintains dramatic tension, heightening the comedy of this riotous caper. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)