Many Saturday nights the air in our home brimmed with excitement. The doorbell rang announcing the arrival of the babysitter. My parents emerged from their bedroom to answer the door, dressed for an evening of dancing.
Dad wore cowboy boots, a special white shirt with elaborate embroidery, decorative buttons down the front and on the cuffs and a bolo tie. Mom wore a puff-sleeve blouse, a matching skirt with coordinating trim and several petticoats to make the skirt stand out and swirl as she moved. Hours of do-si-do, allemande right, allemande left and honor your partner were about to begin.
Elizabeth Rose Stanton who introduced us to Henny, a chicken with human arms, released her second children's title early this year. Peddles (A Paula Wiseman Book, Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers, January 5, 2016) is a pig with thoughts taking him beyond the boundaries of the farm. Peddles dares to dream.
Peddles was just a pig.
For the most part Peddles did the everyday things pigs do. As he did those everyday pig things, his mind wandered. He dreamed about eating pizza instead of slop. He imagined speaking in English instead of the usual grunting and snorting.
Peddles may have looked normal but his vision was extraordinary. When he looked at birds, frogs and stars this pig left terra firma, if only in his mind. Despite all this wishing everything remained the same until one night.
As his pals slept, Peddles left the group. He heard voices lifted in joy and saw people moving inside the barn. A happy hoedown was happening. And Peddles, being the kind of pig he was, got an idea.
Oh, he tried with all his heart to put his plan into action but nothing worked. He looked and looked for the final items. Then he found exactly what he needed but something was still missing. Then they found him!
The first sentence in this book and the use of a single word suggest to us this may not be an ordinary story. By using the word just Elizabeth Rose Stanton cracks open the door of possibility. As she explains how normal Peddles is, she is carefully widening the entrance into the potential for difference. As Peddles' open-mindedness is revealed we can feel our spirits lifted by the bliss he experiences. Her fun-filled verbs and adjectives take us into Peddles' world. Here are several sample sentences.
Peddles heard whooping and hollering.
He saw twirling and whirling.
How can you not adore Peddles by looking at the front of the dust jacket? I can already hear the sighs of readers uttered aloud. The white canvas on the jacket, and for nearly the entire book, supplies the ideal background for the pencil and watercolor illustrations rendered by Elizabeth Rose Stanton. To the left, on the back, we are given a hint as to what sparks Peddles' big idea and resolves his dilemma. On the book case in the same blue as the title text, two circular visuals have been placed. They show Peddles looking between his legs from the front and the back. You won't be able to look at these without smiling.
The darker pink on Peddles is used as the opening and closing endpapers opposite the introductory title page and final wordless page of the book. Stanton gives us another hint as to the items Peddles needs to reach his goal in a tiny image under the dedication. The front dust jacket picture is repeated on the formal title page.
The delicate details in the illustrations bring readers further into the story. We either discover a kinship with Peddles or begin to feel brave enough to implement our intentions. With her images Stanton enlarges the story. In her narrative his pig friends say
"Get your head out of the clouds, Peddles," and stop being so spacey."
This gave Peddles even BIGGER ideas.
Yes, there is planet Earth with Peddles the astronaut floating among the stars. Without spoiling anything Stanton does include several other humorous touches sure to elicit bursts of laughter from readers.
One of my favorite illustrations of many is a double page image of Peddles and his porcine companions at night. The two pages are washed in hues of light blue with white stars. Along the bottom in a row we see the faces of pigs snuggled in sleep, except for one on their back with their legs in the air. On the far right is Peddles, ears up and alert and one eye open. The text reads
until one night...
Peddles written and illustrated by Elizabeth Rose Stanton invites us to dream, be open to possibilities and when an opportunity presents itself, don't give up. I know you are going to get repeated requests to read this aloud. I'm certainly glad I have a beloved pig puppet. You might want to have some country western or square dance music handy too.
To learn more about Elizabeth Rose Stanton, her books and art work please visit her website and blog by following the links attached to her name. Elizabeth Rose Stanton can be found on Twitter at @PenspaperStudio and on Facebook. At the publisher's website are six additional illustrations for you to view. Please take a few moments to read this interview at HENRYHERZ.COM--->KIDLIT, FANTASY & SCI-FI.
In a moment of serendipity I happened to read this book for the first time while listening to Josh Groban's new Stages CD. This is the song that was playing. Sometimes life can be breathtakingly perfect.