Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Playful Piggies Pursue Passion

One look at the cover of Hogwash! (Little, Brown Books for Younger Readers, June7, 2011) by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jim McMullan and readers know that those rascally porkers are going to make life miserable for the farmer. Reminiscent of those famous mud battles during the rainy season in college, they gleefully fling hooves loaded with slop at one another as he, looking aghast, leans over the sign titled in, none other than, dripping dirt.

One warm day in early May,
Farmer had a plan
To spring-clean all his animals
Till each was spic'n' span.

Pail full of sudsy soap and water Farmer cleans horses, ducks, cows, goats, cats and dogs.  His plan is panning out perfectly until he gets to the pigs.  These belligerent barnyard critters don't want to be clean.

He hauls hoses, and they don boots, raincoats and umbrellas and marvel at all the mud.  He brings mash and oats, and they say give it to the goats.  Even pizza won't lure them out and they will not let him in with them.  After each of his attempts they post signs dripping in brown goo replying to his failed efforts:

Keep Your Soap
And Bucket, Bud.
Thanks For
Making All
This Mud!

Eyes agleam with a surefire solution Farmer loads up his crop dust plane flying into the sky sweeping past the sty, only to run...out...of...gas.  Looking much like a kamikaze pilot aiming straight for the mucky muck readers will be surprised how the other animals of the farm find him.  A celebration of uncommon hilarity ensues as does a change in Farmer's bathing habits.

Karma Wilson, known for Bear Snores On, the other delightful Bear books that followed plus others, has penned four-line rhyming verses that tell a tale of stubbornness that wins the day.  If being dirty is who you are, what's wrong with that?  A visit to her web site offers much to teachers and parents to extend the reading of her numerous titles.

Capturing the feel of life on the farm awash in the creamy beige tones of his watercolor illustrations, Jim McMullan brings country to the reader.  His comic portrayal of all the animals but especially of the pigs, their antics and facial expressions, leaving nothing to the imagination, will have readers rolling around the room, peals of laughter filling the air.  His experience and gift as an illustrator is prevalent in his decisions as to placement of the pictures on each page; designing them to convey exactly what the text is telling. 

These two, Wilson and McMullan, have paired to bring us pigs perfectly.

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