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Mr. Green desperately needed to find a new nanny for his children. In the four weeks since their last nanny left, he found himself actually having to talk to them, provide them with meals, and pay attention to them himself. And all this just had to stop. He had a job at a law firm helping rich people avoid paying their taxes. He could not be expected to look after his children as well.
The reason Mrs. Green did not look after the children was because she was not there. Mr. Green said she had died in a boating accident. But the children were not entirely sure this was true. Yes, there had been a funeral. Yes, there had been an obituary in the paper. But people on television programs died all the time and that never stopped them from coming back in the next season. So they had not totally given up hope that their mother had just got fed up with their father, which was a sentiment they could fully understand.
There were three Green children. The eldest, Derrick, was a conscientious boy of eleven. Being older he was the natural leader. The only problem was he was never entirely sure where he was meant to be leading the others to, so he just kept a blank look on his face and hoped nobody noticed. He was always suntanned or muddy. Either way, he always looked brown. And he always had long messy hair but never went to the barber because the only time his father ever spoke to him was to snap, “Go and get your hair cut! You look like a scruffbag!”
The second child, Samantha, was a girl. And, as such, she had even fewer conversations with her father than Derrick. She was a nice nine-year-old and pretty enough, but not so much so as to cause a fuss. Her chief characteristic was that she worried all the time. To be fair, she did have a lot to worry about. Girls whose mothers have drowned in boating accidents would be foolish not to worry.
The third child, Michael, was only seven but, in many ways, he was the most confident. He could not remember his mother at all. So he was not saddened or worried about her loss. Derrick and Samantha bore the brunt of having to deal with Mr. Green. So Michael was able to get on with his life unhindered. As a result he was a little on the tubby side, because Michael’s favorite hobby was stealing food from the kitchen, then sitting and eating it under a bush in the garden. Not that he was greedy, you understand. Because the fact is, most little boys would have this hobby, if only their mothers would let them.
On the whole they were three well-mannered, largely self-sufficient children. And they would have been a doddle for anyone to take care of. Mr. Green should have found a nanny in half a second flat. But there was a problem. Not only did Mr. Green believe that rich people should not pay taxes. He also believed that he, personally, should not have to pay for anything. He begrudged giving money to a nanny. In his opinion child care should be entirely government provided. Paid for out of the taxes his clients never paid.
But even more than that, Mr. Green deeply resented the idea that he had to pay to advertise for a nanny. There was so much unemployment in the world that, in his opinion, nannies should be beating down his door. So despite the fact that he desperately wanted a nanny, he did not have one because he was too cheap to put an advertisement in a newspaper. All Mr. Green had done was paint a sign himself with the words NANNY WANTED: ENQUIRE WITHIN, attach it to a stake, and bang it into the front lawn. So far the sign had sat there for three weeks without a single knock at the door.
And now the pressure was really on. One of the neighbors, having watched Michael sitting under a bush eating frozen pizza (that was still frozen), had reported this to the government. And a social worker had arrived to inspect all three children. She then made an appointment to see Mr. Green (because he was, of course, at work when she visited) and threatened him. She told him that if he continued to leave his children unattended for ten or twelve hours at a time, they would be taken away and put into government care.
Now Mr. Green would have liked nothing more than to be relieved of responsibility for his children. If that happened, then he would not have to go home at all. He could spend all his time at the office, happily reading tax laws. But Mr. Green knew that if his children were taken away from him it would look very bad indeed. (People did not think much of him already, what with him being a tax lawyer, and him not paying attention when his wife fell off the boat.) It would damage him professionally if the story got in the papers.
So it is at this point that our story begins.
Mr. Green was so desperate to hire a nanny, he was actually considering paying to advertise, when this painful thought was interrupted by a loud knock at the front door.
It was a dark and stormy night. Rain was pouring down. As Mr. Green opened the door he could not clearly see the person in front of him, silhouetted by the streetlight. But he could tell from the shape that the person was wearing a dress. So he assumed it was a woman. And he assumed she must have come about the position of nanny. Mr. Green was flooded with relief. “Come in, come in,” he said.
As the new nanny stepped into the house, the light hit her, and Mr. Green could see her clearly for the first time. She wore a simple blue dress with a drop waist and a jaunty little jacket. And she was only four feet tall. But Mr. Green soon forgot about her lack of height when he saw that she had a much more shocking feature. The woman was not a woman. She was a pig. A common, pink farm pig. The type bacon came from.
“Good evening, I am Nanny Piggins,” said Nanny Piggins the pig.
“Huh?” said Mr. Green.
“I have come to apply for the position of nanny,” she explained.
“Well…” spluttered Mr. Green, buying time as his mind raced, and he tried to figure out what to do. “Well, um, that’s very good. But, um… I wonder if you’re quite suitable, you see.”
“I can start immediately,” said Nanny Piggins.
“Oh,” said Mr. Green. He could not deny that this would be convenient.
“I have no criminal record,” said Nanny Piggins.
“That is good,” said Mr. Green. He could not deny that this would please the social worker.
“But I expect to be paid properly,” stated Nanny Piggins.
“Now, that might be a difficulty,” interrupted Mr. Green. Here he saw he had the perfect excuse for not hiring the pig.
“I charge ten cents an hour,” Nanny Piggins declared boldly.
“You’re hired!” exclaimed Mr. Green without even thinking. He knew a bargain when he heard one. “I’ll be frank, Nanny Piggins, I would prefer not to have a pig take care of my children. But I am prepared to offer you the job until a suitable human nanny presents herself.”
“Very well,” said Nanny Piggins. “I think you will find human nannies are terribly overrated. They are, in my experience, very greedy and not terribly clean. But I shall agree to your terms, because it is wet outside and I do not have an umbrella.”
So Mr. Green and Nanny Piggins shook hands on it.
Then Mr. Green immediately fled out of the house, to return to his office in the city, where he could read the tax laws in peace—leaving Nanny Piggins to acquaint herself with the children.
Derrick, Samantha, and Michael stared at Nanny Piggins with their mouths agape. It had never occurred to them that their father might leave them in the care of a pig, no matter how well she was dressed.
“Hello, children, my name is Sarah Piggins and I am to be your new nanny.”
“I’m Derrick,” said Derrick.
“I’m Samantha,” said Samantha.
“And I’m Michael,” said Michael.
“Derrick, Samantha, and Michael. I shall try my best to remember that,” Nanny Piggins assured them.
The children stared at her and she stared at them for several long moments before Nanny Piggins cleared her throat and asked, “So, what’s supposed to happen now?”
“This is the part where you tell us what you expect of us,” Derrick told her. He was quite an experienced hand, having had eleven different nannies in his time. (The nannies never lasted long because they could not bear working for Mr. Green. He was always forgetting to pay them and pretending to be deaf when they asked for food money.) So Derrick waited, expecting some boring lecture about the importance of cleaning behind your ears. But he was soon surprised.
“Oh, I didn’t realize I was meant to have expectations so early on. Give me a moment to think of some,” said Nanny Piggins.
The children watched her as she thought for a few seconds.
“Okay, I’m ready,” she announced. “Well, children, you need not tell your father this, but I will admit I have never been a nanny before. My only previous job experience was as a flying pig in a circus. Which, I am proud to say, I was very good at. And I don’t suppose that nannying can be any harder than being blasted out of a cannon. So I shouldn’t be surprised if I turn out to be very good at this too.”
The children stared at Nanny Piggins in awe. They did not know what to think. They were astounded that she was a pig. But a flying pig? A flying pig who had no idea how to be a nanny? They must be the luckiest children in the world. Derrick was sure a flying pig would not be too vigilant about baths. Michael was sure a flying pig would not mind illicit frozen pizza being eaten underneath the azalea bush. And even Samantha started to worry slightly less, thinking a flying pig probably would not tell her off for all the incorrectly conjugated verbs in her French homework.
It was Nanny Piggins who interrupted their joyful thoughts. “So I’ve told you my expectations. What am I supposed to do next?” she asked.
The children considered all the things their father would have suggested.
“Well, you could tell us to go and tidy our rooms,” suggested Derrick.
“Or instruct us to take a bath,” added Samantha.
“Or order us to be quiet if we know what is good for us,” said Michael.
“Oh, is that what you normally do?” asked Nanny Piggins, taken aback by the unpleasant suggestions. “Well, you can do that if you like. But I’m going to go to the kitchen and go through all the cupboards looking for things that contain sugar. Then eat as much as I can until I feel sick. You can join me if you like.”
And they did.
The children soon fell deeply in love with their new nanny. And Nanny Piggins had barely shoved the first block of cooking chocolate in her mouth (then spat it back out because cooking chocolate does not contain sugar) before she fell in love with them too. They had a wonderful time together. She let them stay up half the night watching scary movies, then let them sleep in her bed the other half the night when they had terrible nightmares. She let them eat chocolate not only before and after breakfast but instead of breakfast as well. As far as they were concerned she was the best nanny ever in the entire world.
The only cloud on their horizon was the NANNY WANTED sign in the front garden.
For their father still held out the hope that he would eventually be able to upgrade to a human nanny. And the children lived in dread of that day.
Excerpted from The Adventures of Nanny Piggins by Spratt, R. A. Copyright © 2010 by Spratt, R. A.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted March 23, 2013
Posted September 7, 2010
The book is eye-catching and with the endorsement from Madeleine Albright, I couldn't wait to start reading.
The Adventures of Nanny Piggins reminded me of P.L. Travers's Mary Poppins with the nanny suddenly showing up to respond to a wanted ad that is practically invisible. And just as Mary Poppins brought all sorts of treats and magic to the Banks children, Nanny Piggins vastly improves the lives of the three Green children.
But the Banks had two loving parents, even if Mr. Banks was a little distracted by his work at the bank. Mr. Green is much less sympathetic with his "job at a law firm helping rich people avoid paying their taxes" and his belief that "he could not be expected to look after his children as well."
The book also reminds me of Betty Macdonald's Mrs. Piggy-Wiggle because of the animals and adventures that seem to follow in Nanny Piggins. Perhaps also because of the names of the characters are a bit similar? Although Nanny Piggins doesn't teach the children life lessons or use all sorts of magic to curb bad behavior the way that Mrs. Piggy Wiggle does, Nanny Piggins brings a sense of adventure to the kids' lives.
A playful and updated version of a nanny story, The Adventures of Nanny Piggins is a delightful, beautifully illustrated book that is sure to appeal to child everywhere.
ISBN-10: 0316068195 - Hardcover
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (August 16, 2010), 256 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
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Posted January 25, 2015
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Posted May 10, 2013
My 6 year old grandson and I shared many laughs while reading about Nanny Piggins. She is a loveable but horrible role model for children. Imagine hiring a nanny that never heard of school and teaches the children how to forge letters to excuse school absences.
The only thing she and I agree on is that chocolate is wonderful. I hope there will be many more Nanny Piggins books.
Posted April 30, 2013
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Posted March 19, 2013
I got my copy first on paper but i had to read it again. This book is is so funny i laugh just thinking about it. So of course i could not resist getting a free sample. Ithink if your reading this you should totally check this out and write a review. This book is good for all ages and super easy to read. And maybe we could become nook friends once i figure out how. So pick it up and enjoy a nice laughWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 16, 2012
This book is really funny and made me laugh on every page!! I could not put this book down-i read it in a day! Read this book!
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Posted January 26, 2014
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