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The Adventures of a South Pole Pig: A novel of snow and courage

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Overview

Flora the pig was born for adventure: “If it’s unexplored and needs to get dug up, call me. I’m your pig,” she says. The day Flora spots a team of sled dogs is the day she sets her heart on becoming a sled pig. Before she knows it, she’s on board a ship to Antarctica for the most exhilarating—and dangerous—adventure of her life. This poignant novel of a purposeful pig is sure to become a favorite with any young readers who have ever dreamed of exploring the great beyond.

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The Adventures of a South Pole Pig: A novel of snow and courage

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Overview

Flora the pig was born for adventure: “If it’s unexplored and needs to get dug up, call me. I’m your pig,” she says. The day Flora spots a team of sled dogs is the day she sets her heart on becoming a sled pig. Before she knows it, she’s on board a ship to Antarctica for the most exhilarating—and dangerous—adventure of her life. This poignant novel of a purposeful pig is sure to become a favorite with any young readers who have ever dreamed of exploring the great beyond.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Gutsy and curious, Flora the pig feels hemmed in by her pen at the farm and longs to see the world. Opportunity arises when a man comes to take one of the piglets away; Flora allows herself to be captured, imagining she’s at the start of a wonderful adventure. Flora’s innocence in this and other matters is a key part of Kurtz’s (The Pup Who Cried Wolf) story. The pig is loaded onto a ship headed to the South Pole, where a team plans to cross Antarctica via a dogsled team; Flora assumes she will be part of the pack pulling the sled, not—as readers will have figured out—an entrée. The knowledge of Flora’s precarious fate hangs over what’s otherwise an upbeat and lively story, as Flora works hard to prove her worth to the crew and forge friendships with Sophia, a fiercely independent cat, and Oscar, the lead sled dog. Like Wilbur before her, Flora’s spirit and determination might have the effect, intended or otherwise, of causing a new generation of readers to reconsider their consumption of meat. Ages 9–12. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
"It will greatly satisfy fans of Dick King-Smith and E.B. White looking for something similar . . . Engaging fantasy adventure for preteen pig pals."
Kirkus

"An upbeat and lively story."
Publishers Weekly

"There's humor as well as heart, grit as well as tenderness in the telling of this Antarctic adventure tale."
Booklist

"Loyalty, courage, and optimism are important ideas, and newcomer Kurtz brings us a rollicking story filled with all three."
Horn Book, starred review
Children's Literature - Heidi Quist
Flora was likely born with an active imagination and desire for adventure, in spite of being a simple farm pig. First she finds some outlet through the farm cat Luna. But from the time she first escapes the pen and meets the sled dogs, her imagination takes her much further. And before she knows it, she finds herself on a ship heading for the South Pole, believing she will actually have the chance to work alongside as a sled pig. Of course, the ship's cook has other designs on her, but thanks to the ship's cat and a cabin boy, she shows her true colors and the captain soon finds what a valuable asset she is. With the demise of the ship, the adventure takes a different turn, but Flora is up to the new challenges, and comes out the hero of the crew. By interesting coincidence, I had been reading Charlotte's Web at the time I received this book, and the similarities are, of course, very apparent. Though there is no spider, the cats and Oscar the dog provide excellent support to Flora's spirit. And it's fun to have another great book about a spirited pig. Keep ?em coming, I say. Reviewer: Heidi Quist
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4—Her name is Flora, and she's a pig. She's curious and longs to explore beyond the perimeters of the pigpen. She dreams of going to Antarctica with the sled dogs on the farm and becoming a sled pig. When she is put in a crate onboard a ship, she sees the expedition as an opportunity while the crew views her as potential pork chops. Then they are shipwrecked and readers will root for spunky Flora as she discovers just how brave and needed she can be. Simple black-line drawings add a welcoming charm. Told in the voice of a seasoned storyteller, this novel has chapters that will work perfectly for sharing aloud with younger children or as a read-alone for more competent readers. Flora will encourage every listener to dream of being their best self. Move over Wilbur and Babe, there's a new pig in town.—Helen Foster James, University of California at San Diego
Kirkus Reviews
Out of the way, Wilbur and Babe: Your cousin Flora has "adventurous hooves"! As a piglet on a farm that raises sled dogs, Flora, who's always been more curious than her brothers (much to her mother's chagrin), wants nothing more than to take her place in the line of dogs pulling a sled. Her best friend, Luna the cat, tells Flora that the adventures she seeks are nothing but trouble; and trouble will find her whether she looks for it or not. Trouble lands Flora in the hold of a ship, where she's mystifyingly called "ham bone" and "sausage" by Amos the cook. Thanks to rat-catching lessons from Luna, Flora can assist new cat-friend Sophia. She likes being useful this way, but why is Flora on a ship headed for the South Pole if not to help the sled dogs? When tragedy strikes, the whole crew counts itself lucky to have such a courageous pig along for the expedition. Kurtz's plucky piggy tale may stretch believability on occasion, but it will greatly satisfy fans of Dick King-Smith and E.B. White looking for something similar. Reinhardt's black-and-white, pen-and-ink illustrations are perhaps a bit too cartoon-sweet for a title featuring realistic rat slaughter and an existential desire not to be food, but every spot illustration will elicit a smile. Engaging fantasy adventure for preteen pig pals. (Adventure. 8-12)
From the Publisher
"It will greatly satisfy fans of Dick King-Smith and E.B. White looking for something similar . . . Engaging fantasy adventure for preteen pig pals."
Kirkus

"An upbeat and lively story."
Publishers Weekly

"There's humor as well as heart, grit as well as tenderness in the telling of this Antarctic adventure tale."
Booklist

"Loyalty, courage, and optimism are important ideas, and newcomer Kurtz brings us a rollicking story filled with all three."
Horn Book, starred review

"Told in the voice of a seasoned storyteller, this novel has chapters that will work perfectly for sharing aloud with younger children or as a read-alone for more competent readers. . . . Move over Wilbur and Babe, there's a new pig in town."
School Library Journal, starred review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547634555
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 1/8/2013
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 29,926
  • Age range: 9 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 660L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 7.06 (h) x 0.98 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Kurtz is a talented teacher, storyteller, and writer. In addition to The Adentures of a South Pole Pig, he wrote the middle-grade novel The Pup Who Cried Wolf and has co-written picture books with his sister Jane Kurtz. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his family.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Mama, why do we have to live in a cage?” Flora dug in the dirt at something hard and rusty. “Honey, don’t do that.” Her mother nosed heraway. “And it’s not a cage. It’s a pigpen.” “Same thing,” said Flora under her breath.
   How unlucky she was—born with adventurous hooves that were stuck inside a pen. But she wasn’t giving up. If there was a way out, Flora said to her- self, she would find it.
   She had already packed down trails to each corner of the pen. She had poked her wet snout through every wooden slat to smell the other side. And she had dug holes all along the pen’s perimeter. Usually the only thing hiding under the surface was more dirt—until today. Maybe this hard and rusty something would bring a change in routine.
   As soon as her mother turned, Flora went back to digging. She scratched away busily until the thing popped out of the ground.
   “I knew it.” Flora gave a little squeal of joy. Now she had to see what it could do.
   “Flora!” shouted her mother. Flora took a step back.
   Her mother trotted over, and close on her heels were three brothers. Flora had seven, so there was always at least one around to watch her get into trouble.
   “Rusty pieces of metal are very dangerous. Why do you insist on unearthing things better left alone?” said her mother.
   Flora stamped the ground. “If it’s unexplored then it needs to get dug up.”
   “I see,” said Mother. “Well if it is sharp and rusty, then it needs to stay unexplored and underground.” Her mother used her snout to nudge and scoot the nail over to the wooden fence, where there was a space between the ground and the lowest board.
   “Mama, wait! I’m not done with that thingy yet.” Flora shoved herself between her mother’s legs.
   Her mother pushed her back. “You most certainly are done with this thingy, little one.” With a firm kick, she spun the nail under the board and out of sight.
   Flora screwed up her face, not sure if she should stomp or flop on the ground. But before she could choose, her mother lay down with her back against the fence. “Breakfast time!” she called.
   A thrill ran through Flora. She was hungry. So were her brothers.
   Flora dove for a good spot, only to find herself bumped and turned aside.
   “There’s enough for everyone,” Mother said. Nobody  listened.
   But Flora, the firstborn of the litter, had sturdy shoulders and strong back legs. When she failed to push through, she had other ways to make room for herself. Standing on a brother’s ear usually created an opening. And if that didn’t work, she’d use her sharp teeth. Flora found that if she chomped down on a brother’s tail, she could count on a loud squeal and an open space.
   A girl had to fight for her food in this family—except against little Alfred, the runt. If he started sniffling, Flora made room for two.
   After breakfast was naptime. Little pigs with their tummies round and full of milk flopped against one another on the ground. But Flora thought piglets spent too much of their lives sleeping. Today she pawed her brother’s knee. “Sam, wake up.”
   “Ummm,” Sam grunted. He didn’t move.
   Flora went over to Tommy. His ear was flopped open.
   “Boo.” Tommy’s head snapped up. “Naptime’s over,” she said.
   “Go away.” Tommy laid his head back down and folded his ear closed.
Flora returned to Sam. She thought about standing on his tail.
   Just behind her someone else grunted. When Flora turned, she saw Alfred smiling and twitching in his sleep.
   “Alfred!” She walked over to her littlest brother, who opened his eyes. “It’s time to go exploring.”
   “Flora, I have a full tummy, and that always makes me sleepy. Besides, we explored the whole pen yesterday, and there wasn’t one new, excit- ing thing.”
   “What about that nail I just dug up?”
   Alfred closed his eyes. “New, but not exciting.” “Fine.” Flora turned her back. She had to admit he was right. But if anything exciting ever did pop up, she’d be the first to see it, if she kept exploring.
   She trotted over to the manure pile, Flora’s favorite lookout. It was the highest point in the pig- pen and the only place Flora could hope to see anything interesting beyond her small world. She gazed past the shade of the pigpen roof to where the world was bright and sunny—sunny junk heap, sunny grass, sunny cornfield, sunny gravel road. A familiar sound floated in. Flora cocked her head to one side to listen. Dogs. They were barking again.
   Now, seeing a dog would be exciting! What would it look like? she wondered. Woolly like a sheep? Horned like a bull? Single-hoofed like a horse or double-hoofed like a pig? One thing was sure, dogs made more noise than all of the other animals put together.
   As the barking died down, Flora tilted her head up at the pigpen roof. Sunlight poured through lit- tle holes, showing bits of dust in the air. Flora moved so that one point of light landed on her front leg. This was as much direct sun as Flora ever got. She lay down carefully so that the spot of light stayed on her leg, and she watched it.
   It looked like a little star. Mother had told her about the points of light that came out at night, like a hundred eyes, watching and twinkling high above the world. Flora wished she could see those eyes. 

When the spot of light moved off her leg, she scrambled up and this time looked all around.Behind her was an empty pigpen. To her right was the open side of the barn. Flora could see through it to the three horse stalls on the far wall. Only one had housed a horse for the last three days. Nessie was quiet except when her hooves knocked against the wooden walls.
   Flora turned back to the sunshine and the junk heap.
   There were old tires, machine parts, wavy rafts of chicken wire, and broken tools that lay where they had been tossed. In the middle was a wheelbarrow with no wheel, and in its body was a green garden hose coiled around . . .
   A white fur ball?

Flora looked again. Was that a dog? The fur ball stretched and yawned. It had a black ear and a mouth full of sharp teeth. Flora’s front knees trembled. This was new and exciting!
   The  creature  stepped  down  from  the  wheel barrow and walked carelessly toward the pigpen. Should Flora warn her mother? No. She could handle the intruder.
   She crept off the manure pile and pushed herself close to the fence where the fur ball might enter, if it was foolish enough to step inside a pigpen guarded by a fierce, sharp-hoofed piglet. She hadn’t woken up today expecting a fight, but this was going to be very satisfying. If some prowling food thief thought it could sneak into her home, Flora was just the pig to teach it a lesson. She crouched.
   Sure enough, the fur ball slipped like water through the slats in the fence.
   This was it, the moment Flora would leap and . . .
   The fur ball sat down and began to lick itself. Flora managed to stop from pouncing to watch.
   Its little pink tongue went in and out of its toothy mouth, licking the fur in front and then working from one side to the other.   

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2014

    Wow

    Awesome book should read

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2013

    TERRIFFIC

    Amasing

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2013

    J

    Go to res 4. Lexi got locked out

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2013

    Terrific

    A great middle school novel writen by a techer

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  • Posted January 10, 2013

    Fantastic Middle Grade Novel!

    When it comes to awesome middle grade novels, this definitely makes my list. Short and easily read, The Adventures of a South Pole Pig was a tale of a brave little pig who wanted to be more than just a ham.

    The story was adventurous, the characters lovable, and the illustrations were fantastic. I fell in love with Flora and her curious spirit almost immediately. She is completely unaware of her role in life (to be food for people) and wants to become a sled pulling pig. Her big chance comes when she is taken and placed on a ship bound for the South Pole. Of course, nobody thinks that a pig is good for anything but getting fat. Flora proves them all wrong.

    There is a great message of becoming all you can be, and not letting yourself be confined by the expectations of the world. Flora rose above everyone's expectations and worked hard to break the mold she had been cast into. It is a story of bravery, courage, and reaching for your dreams.

    Highly recommended for children (or adults) ages 9 and up.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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