Monday, May 20, 2019

Review - Mrs. Pig Gets Cross, and Other Stories

Mrs. Pig Gets Cross, and Other Stories (The Pig Family)
by Mary Rayner
Date: 1988
Publisher: Puffin
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 72
Format: e-book
Source: Open Library

Life in the busy Pig household is always eventful, as Father, Mother, and their ten children have a big party, struggle against bad moods, and all end up in the same bed one night.

This collection contains the following stories:
Mrs. Pig Gets Cross
Wicked William
Father Pig Sleeps On
The Potato Patch
Lettuce is Too Flat
Piglets and Pancakes
Bathtime for Garth Pig

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I loved Mary Rayner's books about the Pig family when I was a kid. I found copies of some of them through Open Library, so I thought I'd read them and see if they're still as fun as I remember. I'm not sure if I ever read this collection or not (I was a little bit older by the time it came out, so maybe not), but I did enjoy it now as an adult!

There are seven stories here, each a bit heavy on the text, but so fun that that can be forgiven.

In "Mrs. Pig Gets Cross", the mother is tired of cleaning up her piglets' messes. They leave stuff everywhere, and she can't get ahead of it. (There are ten piglets, after all.) So she kind of gives up, and when Mr. Pig gets home, they argue about the mess a bit. Unfortunately, their argument distracts Mr. Pig so much that he forgets to lock the door before going up to bed, and a burglar sneaks in...

"Wicked William" tells a rather brotherly story about William's naughty shenanigans. But his skills turn out to be quite useful when little brother Garth accidentally locks himself in the bathroom... with the water running.

In "Father Pig Sleeps On", all ten piglets eventually end up crowded into their parents' bed... and Mr. Pig snores on without noticing!

"The Potato Patch" is a cute story about imagination and ingenuity. Alun and William are supposed to be helping their father plant potatoes in the garden, but they get bored. So they end up trying to plant acorns and bananas instead, their crops marked by Mrs. Pig's knitting needles and yarn! Surprisingly enough, though, something grows...

"Lettuce is Too Flat" is about a grumpy Benjamin and the clever reverse psychology sister Sarah uses on him.

"Piglets and Pancakes" is probably the most dated story of the bunch, regarding gender stereotypes. After Mrs. Pig declares that the girls should make all the beds, Sorrel devises a boys-versus-girls contest to see who's the best. Aside from the initial setup, it's actually not all that offensive, and the boys do end up having to make their beds in the end. (I'm just not sure how the beginning part of the story will play to a modern audience.)

"Bathtime for Garth Pig" kind of requires knowledge of a previous story about the pig family, namely Mr. and Mrs. Pig's Evening Out. (In that story, they accidentally hire a wolf as the babysitter.) In this particular story, Mr. and Mrs. Pig decide it's too dangerous to go out and leave the piglets, so they have a party at their place. But one guest in a spangled dress looks a little bit familiar. And when she takes Garth upstairs for a very hot bath, it's up to the rest of the Pig siblings to save the day.

It's such a shame that these books are no longer in print. They're absolutely adorable, well written, and pretty funny. If you can find them at the library or in a second-hand bookstore, I highly recommend giving them a try.

Quotable moment:

The lady led him into the bathroom, put the plug in, and turned on the hot tap.

Steam filled the bathroom, but she didn't turn on the cold. Her sparkly dress was clinging to her, and her makeup was running down her nose. She began to hum a little song, and Garth gave a gasp. He had heard that tune before.

"Fried or boiled, baked or roast,
Or minced with mushyrooms on toast?" she sang.

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 5/5

Enjoyment: 5/5

Overall: 4.5 out of 5

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