cover image HOBART


Anita Briggs, , illus. by Mary Rayner. . S&S, $14 (64pp) ISBN 978-0-689-84129-3

Newcomer Briggs presents a snappy story featuring four porcine siblings with ambitious aspirations: Violet longs to become an acrobat, Wilfred a tenor, Byron a poet and Hobart a tap-dancer. Yet when an arrogant cow arrives on the farm and greets them, "Hello there, pork chops.... Oh didn't you know? That's what all pigs come to, in the end," the despondent pigs are ready to abandon their dreams. All but ever-hopeful Hobart ("No one seemed to know why Hobart was hopeful, or how he got that way"), who convinces the others to dig their way under the barnyard fence to escape the clutches of the meat man who plans to buy them from the impoverished farmer. The determined quartet spends months in the remote hills, honing their skills until they are ready to return to the farm to perform and raise enough money for the farmer to pay his bills. Briggs slyly slips a message about perseverance and believing in oneself into her narrative, which she peppers with wry lines. When his siblings inform him of their impending sale to the meat man, Hobart protests, "They can't eat artists!" and Wilfred responds, "Artists today, picnic hams tomorrow." Rayner (illustrator of Babe) once again packs a lot of character into her simple halftone drawings. She humorously captures both the exasperation and exhilaration of these spunky swine. Ages 8-12. (May)