cover image Wishes, Kisses, and Pigs

Wishes, Kisses, and Pigs

Betsy Hearne. Margaret K. McElderry Books, $16 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-689-84122-4

""Be careful what you wish for"" is the lesson that resounds (a bit too loudly) throughout this offbeat fairy tale set in Tollivers' Hollow, ""said to be a peculiar place, even a perilous place."" Farm girl Louise calls her brother a pig at the exact moment she wishes upon a star. The next thing she knows, brother Willie is gone; soon after, a big white pig with ""sky blue"" eyes like Willie's mysteriously appears. Holding herself responsible for the unfortunate transformation, Louise determines to set things right. But how? Offering a supporting cast of comical characters, a dash of philosophy and generous dose of surprises, the energetic story calls to mind Sid Hite's farm-family fantasies. But while it shares Hite's spirited folksiness and quirkiness, it lacks Hite's internal logic and consistent tone; Hearne's (Listening for Leroy) occasional attempts at seriousness are too pointed and her characters' inspirations somewhat arbitrary. Some motifs don't cohere for example, there are hints that the Tollivers are descendants of Jack of Beanstalk fame, but not enough to make the connection meaningful. Those expecting an all's-well end to a playful romp instead receive a confusing message about desire, fate and nature, plus a parting image of a child making funeral plans for a beloved animal. Like Louise and her wish, this story is a strange mix of potent language and disjointed events. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)