Dick King-Smith, , illus. by Jill Barton. . Candlewick, $14.99 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-1269-6
King-Smith's sprightly confection dresses up a standard-issue plot with amusing, old-fashioned storytelling. Spoiled, willful and insufferably rude, young Princess Penelope is "a right pain in the neck," as the palace courtiers and servants agree. Her parents, especially her father, seem bent on indulging her every whim, however, and when Penelope insists on a pet pig for her eighth birthday ("I wanna pig, I wanna pig, I wanna pig!"), they reluctantly summon all the pig keepers in the land. To her parents' dismay, the princess chooses "the scruffiest, ugliest pig of the lot." Lollipop may not be comely, but "she's the brightest, cleverest pig you ever did see," as her keeper, Johnny Skinner, assures the royal family, an assertion that quickly proves correct. Before long, the boy and his charge have charmed not only the king and queen (who is delighted with Lollipop's skill at weeding and fertilizing the rose garden), but more importantly, the princess herself, who, in the process of helping to train Lollipop, learns a few lessons about manners and friendship. Beginning or reluctant readers will appreciate that the tale is served up in a dozen short chapters, which Barton's (the Baby Duck books) line illustrations mine for all their innocent charm. Ages 7-10.
Reviewed on: 06/04/2001