Book: The Princess and the Pig
Author: Jonathan Emmett
Illustrator: Poly Bernatene
Age Range: 5-8
The Princess and the Pig is a picture book for older readers that pokes good-natured fun at classic fairy tales. A kindly farmer is heading home from the market with a tiny pink piglet in his cart. Via a chance mishap (and some maternal neglect on the part of the queen), the piglet ends up trading places with a newly born princess.
Both the farmer and his wife and the king and queen decide that magic must be afoot, because "It's the sort of thing that happens all the time in books." So the little princess is raised in the farmer's cottage, as Pigmella, while the pig is raised as Princess Priscilla. Humor ensues. The ending is not the sort of ending that happens all the time in books. But it is perfect for the story, and sure to please young readers.
There's a lot to like about The Princess and the Pig. The references to "things that happen all the time in books" are accompanied by images of said books (e.g. "Puss in Boots"), setting up lots of family reads of classic tales. There is plenty of story, and plenty of text, making this a satisfying (if not necessarily quick) read for early elementary school kids. Some pages have four or five sentences of text, accompanied by multiple, smaller illustrations. The vocabulary is rich without being too advanced, with words like "discover" and "ridiculous" sprinkled throughout.
Here are a couple of examples of the text:
"A moment later, a wet, squelching noise came from the baby's diaper, closely followed by an awful smell.
"YUCK!" shrieked the queen, dropping the baby and running off to find the royal nannies."
"As Pigmella grew older,
she grew smarter,
and was admired by everyone she met.
As Priscilla grew older,
she grew not so smart,
and not so beautiful,
and was avoided by everyone she met."
Funny, yes? I enjoyed the parallelism.
Poly Bernatene's vibrant illustrations bring the story to life. The sweetness of Pigmella, the down-to-earth niceness of the farmer and his wife, and the snootiness of the queen are all there for the reader to enjoy. Pigmella the girl is shown in one picture surrounded by birds and butterflies - a classic fairy tale princess in disguise, while Priscilla the pig is shown unhappy and overdressed, sitting on an ornate pillow. Even the color tones of the images convey the happiness of Pigmella's rural life relative to the unhappiness of the situation in the castle.
The Princess and the Pig has it all, a fully-featured story, chock full of references to classic tales, a likeable protagonist, and glowing illustrations. It might be a bit long for library storytimes, but would be a great classroom read for second graders, and a delightful bedtime read, too. Even though it's about a princess, I think that boys would enjoy this one, too (if you can get them past the title). Highly recommended.
Publisher: Walker Children's (@BWKids)
Publication Date: September 27, 2011
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher, for Cybils
Nominated for 2011 Cybils in Fiction Picture Books by: Becky
Also reviewed for Cybils by: debnance | morninglightmama | Natalia | rebeccareid
© 2011 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).