Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Pigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey

Horn Book (September/October, 2014)
Pigsticks Pig comes from a long line of august ancestors, or, as he puts it, forepigs. From the portraits on the wall we see that these include Emmeline Pighurst and Mustapha Snuffles. But a young pig has to make his own mark, and Pigsticks decides on an expedition to the Ends of the Earth. In the tradition of the great British explorers, he equips himself with the essentials, including a pith helmet and a teakettle, and proceeds to engage an assistant, a mild, anxious, cake-loving hamster named Harold. In three generously illustrated chapters we follow the explorers as they survive swamps, deserts, rickety rope bridges, malevolent mountain goats, and an avalanche to return home triumphant. The art is slapdash-goofy: Pigsticks looks like a yam with a snout, and Harold is a mustachioed hacky sack. Frequent disconnects between text and pictures carry much of the humor in this tongue-in-cheek-funny (everybody will have the pleasure of seeing right through Pigsticks's charming arrogance) early chapter book. Plums for grownups? Mild satire of the British-colonial mindset and some porcine parodies of cubist masterworks on Pigsticks's walls. sarah ellis

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