cover image Waltur Buys a Pig in a Poke: And Other Stories

Waltur Buys a Pig in a Poke: And Other Stories

Barbara Gregorich, , illus. by Kristin Sorra. . Houghton, $15 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-618-47306-9

In this funny early reader, a dimwitted bear named Waltur learns—the hard way—what is really meant by three age-old idioms, each highlighted in its own story. (The stories are further broken down into four easy-to-digest chunks.) Waltur's wise and patient roommate Matilda introduces each adage, then watches as Waltur's subsequent clueless behavior drives home the meaning of the moral. In the first tale, Waltur is eager to buy a pet pig at the fair. "Do not buy a pig in a poke," says Matilda, explaining that a poke is a bag. "You should not buy what you cannot see." But when a wily fox proffers a pig in a box, Waltur figures he's home free. The pig, however, turns out to be imperious and usurps Waltur's place in front of the TV. The second tale's exegesis on "Don't count your chickens before they are hatched" finds Waltur hatching a money-making scheme by raising chickens from eggs but finds himself stuck with a passel of ducklings. The final story teaches the meaning of "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink." Despite Waltur's missteps, things do work out for him, sending an upbeat message to youngsters that at times one only learns by trial and error. Gregorich's (Beep, Beep! ) prose tickles nascent readers while building their confidence (Waltur to the horse: "I can make you drink water." Horse to Waltur: "I think not"). Sorra's (King o' the Cats ) chipper spot watercolors add just the right touch of comic visual stimuli. An afterword offers a brief history on each idiom. Ages 7-10. (July)