Quote of the Month

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

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Look Out! Pig On The Loose!

Clearly I have a passion for pigs, at least as characters in books. (Memories of driving by their farms in the community near my childhood home are clearly cemented in my olfactory files.  Phew!)  I have posted about the middle grade novels, The Adventures of Nanny Piggins and Nanny Piggins and the Wicked Plan written by R. A. Spratt with hilarious illustrations by Dan Santat, a porker opposed to being clean, Pirates Don't Take Baths written and illustrated by John Segal, a new take on The Three Little Pigs in Emily Gravett's Wolf Won't Bite!a barnyard group loving their dirt at all costs in Hogwash! by Karma Wilson with illustrations that tickle the funny bone by Jim McMullan, a spooky snack lover in Hampire! by Sudipata Bardhan-Quallen with expressive pictures by Howard Fine, siblings reluctantly surfing in the delightful Pig Kahuna written and illustrated by Jennifer Sattler, the precocious Olivia Goes to Venice written and illustrated by Ian Falconer and those cooks, Piggies in the Kitchen, by Michelle Meadows with laughable visuals by Ard Hoyt.  So it goes without saying, when I saw the cover displaying an undiscovered "pig" book at my public library, I stopped in my tracks.

The very same day, John Schumacher, K-5 librarian and blogger at Watch. Connect. Read. posted this on Twitter.  I know it as much as the next person, having continually reminded my students over the years and mentioned it previously on my blog, you can't judge a book by its cover.  I double dog dare you, no I triple hog challenge you, to not pick up I Know a Wee Piggy (Dial Books for Young Readers)written by Kim Norman with pictures by Henry Cole once you've feasted your eyes on the pig, front and center, ears spread like wings, wide-eyed with the goofiest grin plastered on his face.

I know a wee piggy...
who wallowed in BROWN.
Upside down, he wallowed in brown.
"But brown is not for me," he said. "I think I'll add a rinse of ..."

It's off to the fair, it's that time of year here too, for a red and white checked, shirt-wearing boy with his prize pig in hand. This squirmy little bundle of squeaky-clean pinkness has other plans.  The first puddle of mud he can find is like pure heaven.

Scampering through the vegetable displays ablaze in red, off to the cow barn for a bit of white, diving into the tufts of cotton candy for sticky puffs of pink, this little porker is on the run grinning at all his fun.  Each time he encounters another part of the fair, a new colorful coat is added to his body. Layer upon layer, like skins on an onion, paint, grass, clay and a scarf collide in brilliance.

There's no stopping this artistic endeavor!  But wait, oh, no...pigs can swim?  Who knew?  His last blast is into blue...in more ways than one.

Using the familiar format and her own special take on I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly, author Kim Norman takes readers on a tantalizing tour in this tale of basic tints and tones.  Rhyming lines create a cumulative rhythm like a hand motioning readers to join the romp.  Expressive verbs, shout, sigh and bellow, underscore the persistence of this pig.

Royal purple endpapers provide a hint as to the outcome.   The sure, black lines done by Henry Cole's hand within the pages provide the playful, purposeful outline for the bright hues of his illustrations rendered in acrylic paints and colored pencil.  The facial expressions on the rascally porcine couldn't be better; he's clearly filled with unadulterated joy as everyone else is aghast.

Cole uses white space to his advantage illuminating the color words in the exact color; showcasing each line as it is added with a spot illustrations of the most recent improvements, so to speak.  On the left side are full color visuals bleeding out to the edge, showcasing the free-for-all fair escapades.  Sometimes this pattern is mixed up with two page spreads for emphasis and an extra dose of laughter.

Author Kim Norman and illustrator Henry Cole have crafted a surefire winner in I Know a Wee Piggy introducing colors, a trip to the country fair, and a wayward pig bent on seeing the sights, bringing newness to a beloved tune.  This title is guaranteed to bring about laughter, singing and probably a bit of dancing.  Tra...la...la...
Please follow the links to the author's and illustrator's websites embedded in their names.  Kim Norman has plenty of additional resources for educators to use in connection to her books.

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