cover image Pig Tale

Pig Tale

Helen Oxenbury, . . S&S/McElderry, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-0277-5

Money can't buy happiness—or so two greedy pigs learn in Oxenbury's (We're Going on a Bear Hunt ) delightful picture book. Buoyant verse introduces Bertha and Briggs, porcine protagonists who "had plenty to eat,/ a warm sty with a thatch,/ an orchard to play in/ and trees for a scratch." But puddles of mud can't satisfy their itch for riches ("only then would they really be happy, they knew"). When the two pigs discover a treasure chest, it seems like their dream has come true. But the car they buy (from a Yellow Submarine –era John Lennon lookalike) breaks down, and their dream house requires constant upkeep. What is there to do but return to their old wallow: "To be careless and free and to romp and to play/ was all that they wanted to do every day." In a series of amusing spot illustrations, they gleefully shed their clothes and push the pesky car into a pond. Oxenbury proves again that she is a master of visual storytelling. In their tacky clothes, Bertha and Briggs exude self-satisfaction, then doubt creeps into their pudgy faces. Oxenbury mars these later images with ink splatters, smudges and scratches, highlighting the pigs' dissatisfaction. Her "less is more" lesson may be lost on children at the younger side of the age range, but the pigs' endearing silliness, coupled with readable rhymes, make a highly entertaining read. Ages 3-6. (July)