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Ginger and Petunia

Ginger and Petunia

5.0 1
by Patricia Polacco

Virginia Vincent Folsum, better known as Ginger, is a very elegant lady. An accomplished pianist, socially active—and what style! “You are what you wear” is her motto. But Ginger’s greatest passion is her pet pig, Petunia, whom she pampers endlessly. When Ginger is called out of town for a performance, Petunia is left on her own. Donning


Virginia Vincent Folsum, better known as Ginger, is a very elegant lady. An accomplished pianist, socially active—and what style! “You are what you wear” is her motto. But Ginger’s greatest passion is her pet pig, Petunia, whom she pampers endlessly. When Ginger is called out of town for a performance, Petunia is left on her own. Donning Ginger’s stunning gowns, Petunia poses as Ginger and conducts business as usual, with no one the wiser. Hilarity ensues as Petunia becomes the toast of the town, proving Ginger’s motto that you really are what you wear.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Droll text and playfully hyperbolic art serve up a piggish portion of humor in Polacco's (The Graves Family) tale starring a porcine pet with plenty of personality. Petunia's owner, a "brilliant pianist" who teaches musical prodigies, lives in a "scrumptious home" and wears delightfully flamboyant outfits. Elegant Ginger showers oodles of affection on Petunia, for whom she has installed a mud hole in the backyard, topped by a gazebo to make it "look like a spa." When Ginger is invited to be a guest soloist in London, the sitter she hires to tend to her pampered pet is a no-show, but Petunia takes care of herself—and then some. Disguised in Ginger's eccentric ensembles (which would turn Miss Piggy green with envy), Petunia presides over the prodigies' piano lessons. An inspired spread depicts the porcine impersonator striking the very poses Ginger assumed in an early group of vignettes. Though she wreaks comic havoc as a socialite, Petunia can do no wrong. She knocks over and shatters a statue in an art museum, and reveals it to be a forgery made of plaster rather than marble. At a dinner the mayor then throws in her honor, she ignores her silverware, slurps soup from a bowl and burps loudly, inspiring her admiring fellow diners do the same. In her pièce de resistance, Petunia, esteemed guest at the governor's ball, dances her host right into a huge vat of chocolate mousse ("It looked just like mud!") and everyone "that was anyone" follows suit. Polacco's porcine protagonist will also endear herself to readers, who will happily wallow in this lighthearted caper. Ages 4-up. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature
Virginia Vincent Folsum (a.k.a. Ginger) is a brilliant pianist and teacher, and an elegant lady with a passion for beautiful clothes. She is also, incidentally, the owner of a pet pig named Petunia, for whom she has even built a mud hole. When Ginger takes off for a concert in London, she thinks she has arranged a sitter to care for for Petunia, but the agency cancels. How Petunia manages Ginger’s life on her own, including teaching Ginger’s students, shopping, and even attending a museum opening, dinner party, and grand ball, makes for quite a wild and entertaining (if incredible) story. Missing her beloved mud baths, Petunia does a grand finale dive into the chocolate mousse before her happy reunion with Ginger. Naturalistic, detailed scenes drawn with pencils and markers emphasize the humor in the situations. Petunia applying mascara at a table littered with make-up, dressed in Ginger’s finery, her bright red cupid’s bow lips surrounded by her piggy snout, is only one of the really funny scenes. Polacco brings the entire large cast to life in ornate settings filled with details to enjoy. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal

Gr 2-4
Ginger is an eccentric pianist with plenty of money, fame, and accomplished young students to whom she listens raptly each day. She also has a closet full of flashy clothes ("'You are what you wear,' she always says") and plenty of makeup that she applies liberally. As if that's not enough to make her a bit unusual, Ginger has a pig named Petunia. She adores her pet so much that the porker's rather elaborate house is under the staircase and her every whim is catered to, including a fabulous outdoor mud hole with a gazebo over it. ("'My Petunia does so love her mud soaks,' Ginger always says.") But when the pampered pet is accidentally left to fend for herself for a few days, the fun really begins. She fills in for Ginger, attending openings and parties, wearing Ginger's clothes and makeup; the fact that no one notices is hilarious. Polacco's illustrations are filled with movement and humor. The dance sequence with the governor ("Petunia grabbed his ankles and swung him round and round and up into the huge vat of chocolate mousse") is worth the price of the book.
—Lee BockCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
With her long, flowing headscarves and '30s-style gowns (think Tallulah Bankhead), elegant piano virtuoso Ginger Folsum is the unlikely-and doting-owner of a big, pink pig named Petunia. After the warm-hearted bon vivant is invited to perform in London, and the housesitter fails to show up, the porcine Petunia takes on Ginger's identity-without anyone noticing. Not Ginger's music students, not the museum patrons where Petunia exposes a forgery, not even the smitten governor. As with the prolific and popular Polacco's other picture books, this somewhat overextended, yet gently amusing tall-tale is based on characters from real life. Featuring contrasting colors, Polacco's vibrant signature artwork contrasts expressive cameo portraits set against crisp white backdrops with more expansive compositions that spill over from one page to the next. (Picture book. 5-8)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.75(w) x 11.25(h) x 0.38(d)
770L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

"I was born in Lansing, Michigan in 1944. Soon after my birth I lived in Williamston, Michigan and then moved onto my grandparents farm in Union City, Michigan.

"I lived on the farm with my mom and Grandparents until 1949. That is when my Babushka (my grandmother) died and we prepared to move away from Michigan. I must say that living on that little farm with them was the most magical time of my life...and that my Babushka and other grandparents were some of the most inspirational people in my life.

"My parents were divorced when I was 3, and both my father and mother moved back into the homes of their parents. I spent the school year with my mother, and the summers with my dad. In both households I was the apple of my grandparents' eyes! I would say that these relationships with my grandparents have most definitely influenced my life and my work. You probably have noticed that in almost every book that I write there is a very young person who is interacting with an elderly person. Personally, I feel that this is the most valuable experience of my life....having the wonder of knowing both children and elderly people.

"The respect that I learned as a very young person certainly carried over into my life in later years. I have always like hearing stories from these folks. My genuine curiosity for the wonder of living a very long life prepared me to accept the declining years of my own parents.

"To get back to the farm in Union City...this place was so magical to me that I have never forgotten it! This was the place where I heard such wonderful stories told...this was the place that a real meteor fell into our font yard...that very meteorite is now our family headstone in the graveyard here in Union City.

"Did I tell you that I now live in Union City? This is after living in Oakland, California for almost 37 years. But, you see, every year I'd come back to Michigan to see my Dad and family.


"In 1949 we left the farm to move, first to Coral Gables, Florida. I lived there with my Mom and my brother, Richard, for almost 3 years. Then we moved to Oakland, California. I remained there for most of my young life on into my adulthood. We lived on Ocean View Drive in the Rockridge District. What I loved the most about this neighborhood is that all of my neighbors came in as many colors, ideas and religions as there are people on the planet. How lucky I was to know so many people that were so different and yet so much alike.

"It is on Ocean View that I met my best friend, Stewart Grinnell Washington. We are best friends to this day! He has a younger brother, Winston and three sisters; Jackie, Terry and Robin. When I was a student in elementary school I wasn't a very good student. I had a terrible time with reading and math. As a matter of fact, I did not learn how to read until I was almost 14 years old. Can you imagine what it was like to see all my friends do so well in school and I wasn't! I thought I was dumb. I didn't like school because there was this boy that always teased me and made me feel even dumber. When I was fourteen, it was learned that I have a learning disability. It is called dyslexia. I felt trapped in a body that wouldn't do what everybody else could do. That was when one of my hero's, my teacher, found what was wrong with me and got me the help I needed to succeed in school. Of course, now that I am an adult, I realize that being learning disabled does not mean DUMB AT ALL! As a matter of fact, I have learned that being learning disabled only means that I cannot learn the way most of you do. As a matter of fact, most learning disabled children are actually GENIUSES! Once I learned how to read and caught up with the rest of my fellow students, I did very well.

"I went on to University, majored in Fine Art, then went on to do a graduate degree and even ended up with a Ph.D. in Art History. For a time I restored ancient pieces of art for museums. I eventually became the mother of two children, Steven and Traci, and devoted much of my days to their education and upbringing.

"I did not start writing children's books until I was 41 years old. Mind you the "art" has always been there for me most of my life. Apparently one of the symptoms of my disability in academics is the ability of draw very, very well. So drawing, painting and sculpture has always been a part of my life even before I started illustrating my books. The books were quite a surprise, really. Mind you, I came from a family of incredible storytellers. My mother's people were from the Ukraine and Russia...my father's people were from Ireland. My extended family,(Stewart's family) were from the bayous of Louisiana...also great story tellers. When you are raised on HEARING stories.....NOT SEEING THEM, you become very good at telling stories yourself. So at the age of 41 I started putting stories that I told down on paper and did drawings to help illustrate them...I guess the rest is history.

"I have enjoyed a wonderful career of writing books for children . Who could have guessed that little girl that was having such a tough time in school would end up an illustrator and author. Children and adults alike ask me where I get my ideas...I get them from the same place that you do....MY IMAGINATION... I would guess the reason my imagination is so fertile is because I came from storytelling and, WE DID NOT OWN A T.V.!!!!!!!!! You see, when one is a writer, actor, dancer, musician; a creator of any kind, he or she does these things because they listen to that "voice" inside of them. All of us have that "voice". It is where all inspired thoughts come from....but when you have electronic screens in front, of you, speaking that voice for you... it DROWNS OUT THE VOICE! When I talk to children and aspiring writers, I always ask them to listen to the voice, turn off the T.V. and


"Now that I have moved back to Union City I am intending to open my house and community and invite people to come there to take part in writing seminars, story telling festivals, literature conferences and various events that celebrate children's literature."

Born Patricia Ann Barber in Lansing, Michigan, to parents of Russian and Ukrainian descent on one side and Irish on the other, Patricia Polacco grew up in both California and Michigan. Her school year was spent in Oakland, California, and summers in her beloved Michigan. She describes her family members as marvelous storytellers. "My fondest memories are of sitting around a stove or open fire, eating apples and popping corn while listening to the old ones tell glorious stories about their homeland and the past. We are tenacious traditionalists and sentimentalists.... With each retelling our stories gain a little more Umph!"

Studying in the United States and Australia, Patricia Polacco has earned an M.F.A. and a Ph. D. in art history, specializing in Russian and Greek painting, and iconographic history. She is a museum consultant on the restoration of icons. As a participant in many citizen exchange programs for writers and illustrators, Patricia Polacco has traveled extensively in Russia as well as other former Soviet republics. She continues to support programs that encourage Russo-American friendships and understanding. She is also deeply involved in inner-city projects here in the U.S. that promote the peaceful resolution of conflict and encourage art and literacy programs.

The mother of a grown son and a daughter, Patricia Polacco currently resides in Michigan, where she has a glorious old farm that was built during the time of Lincoln.

copyright © 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

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Ginger and Petunia 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
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