cover image Five Little Piggies

Five Little Piggies

David Martin. Candlewick Press (MA), $16.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-1-56402-918-8

This uncommonly diverting picture book tells why this little piggy went to market and that one stayed home. Five chapters introduce the porcine quintet one by one, according to the nursery rhyme. In the first episode, Momma Piggy sends her daughter skipping to the market for eggs, milk and apples, then welcomes the young shopper home with a hug. Her son is having a hard day in the second tale, so Momma Pig lets him stay home from school: ""We had slopcakes and syrup for lunch!"" he boasts to his siblings, who then scheme to stay home the following morning. The third piggy rejects her dish of slop and requests roast beef, which she garnishes with squishy leftovers, arguing, ""That's not slops. That's roast beef!"" With utmost attention and a sly sense of humor, illustrator Meddaugh (Martha Speaks) gives each character a distinctive personality and outfit. Cartoon voice-bubble asides and hand-printed exclamations supplement Martin's (Little Chicken Chicken) lively text; the fifth piggy, who cries, "" `Wee wee wee' all the way to the bathroom,"" exclaims with evident relief, ""I almost didn't make it!"" as her brother giggles. Indulgent Momma Piggy presides over every scene, never growing impatient with her piglets. By the end of the volume, readers have become acquainted with each of the characters, whose individual stories can be re-read singly or as a group. Martin and Meddaugh find an amiable new approach to an old standby. Ages 3-6. (June)