Publishers WeeklyIn this appealing hybrid of picture- and chapter-book, McPhail (Pigs Aplenty, Pigs Galore!) introduces another affable addition to his menagerie of porcine characters. Piggy, the runt of the litter, is taken in by Mr. Farmer Todd and his wife, who teaches the helpful pig how to make her delicious pancakes and even divulges the recipe's secret ingredient. After Fox, another runt who has left home to make his way in the world, wanders onto the farm and announces that he would like to settle down, Piggy and he open a pancake parlor together. ("I don't know how to cook anything else - so it will have to be pancakes," remarks the ingenuous porker.) Brief, tidy vignettes reveal diverting goings-on at the eatery: the unfailingly good-natured Piggy cleverly quashes the complaints of a perpetually grumpy customer, Piggy and Fox feed a busload of ravenous children who can't get home due to a flood, and a toy train the duo rigs up to deliver patrons' meals has a disastrous derailing. McPhail's understated narrative and winsome watercolor-and-ink pictures serve up generous portions of humor, making this delectable fare that goes down easily. Ages 4-8. (June) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Children's LiteratureDavid McPhail combines his expertise as "master piggifier" and pancake chef in this book. His pancakes, like Piggy's have a secret ingredient. Actually there are two secret ingredients: nutmeg and well, readers find out the other on the very last page. Piggy, the runt of the litter, was so weak and tiny that Mr. and Mrs. Farmer Todd took him to live in their home. He loved being in the kitchen, especially when Mrs. Farmer Todd was making pancakes for breakfast. She tells Piggy he's a "natural born pancake maker" and teaches him to make her secret recipe, the one with nutmeg in it. When he goes to the hen house to gather eggs for a batch of pancakes, Piggy runs into Fox, another runt, who is stealing eggs because he is down on his luck and starving. Piggy invites Fox in and Mrs. Farmer Todd urges him to stay for breakfast. This leads to friendship and eventually partnership in the Pancake Parlor. Both creatures are exceptional role models. Most importantly children won't feel as though they are being lectured to as they follow the adventures of the two unconventional friends. 2002, Sutton Children's Books /Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers,
Janet Crane Barley
School Library JournalGr 1-3-This heartwarming story of friendship between a pig and a fox, both the runts of their litters, will strike a chord with children who have ever felt left out. Piggy is taken in by the farmers because he is underfed and weak. They love him as if he were their child. Memories of a warm home with delicious smells, especially Mrs. Farmer Todd's pancakes, take root in his mind. Fox is not quite so lucky and tries to make it on his own. Their paths cross in the henhouse when Piggy catches him stealing eggs. They strike a deal: if the interloper will help gather eggs, the pig will feed him. The rest is history-they lease a vacant building, renovate it, and start "Piggy's Pancake Parlor," using the farmer's recipe with her secret ingredient, " a little bit of love." This is a delightfully engaging beginning chapter book. The simple, straight-from-the-heart text and well-placed watercolor-and-ink illustrations create such a sense of realism that it is easy to forget that the characters aren't humans. Realistic facial features run the gamut of emotional expression as each short chapter introduces a new dimension to the animals' growing relationship-forgiveness and compassion, trust, friendship, keeping a promise, and, most importantly, rewarding true loyalty. This warm and fuzzy story will be equally enjoyable whether read independently or shared with a group.-Wanda Meyers-Hines, Ridgecrest Elementary School, Huntsville, AL Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus ReviewsEven when McPhail (The Teddy Bear, p. 496, etc.) is somewhat predictable, he can't seem to help but turn out a winning story; his never-failing artwork doesn't hurt either, with its fine lines, robust color, and deep narrative content. Here, in a story in chapters, he's back with one of his favorite creatures, the pig-Piggy, in this case. Piggy was the runt of the litter, but tendered into youth by the kind Mr. and Mrs. Farmer Todd. Among the gifts they bestow upon Piggy is the secret to Mrs. Farmer Todd's delicious pancakes. When a young and starving fox by the name of Fox ("The name certainly suits you," notes Mrs. Farmer Todd) is caught in the hen house, Piggy invites him in to have some pancakes. Soon, Piggy and Fox decide to open a pancake parlor in their little burg. It becomes a great hit and gives Piggy a chance to display his remarkable patience, tolerance, and loyalty: he works more like a beaver than a porker; he handles unruly customers with kindness; and he doesn't reveal the secret ingredient to the pancakes, even when offered a substantial cash bribe. Finally the day comes when he confides the secret ingredient to Fox-with Mrs. Farmer Brown's approval. You guessed it: love is the answer. But that isn't what propels this story forward, except as an aspect of Piggy's general deportment; the secret ingredient is McPhail's terrific way with words-"But Piggy and Fox were young and strong, and the hard work agreed with them"-and his ability to craft affecting, soulful characters. (Picture book. 4-8)
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