Pigs Might Fly, by Nick Abadzis and Jerel Dye, is a wild ride of a graphic novel that takes readers on a gripping adventure through skies in which science and magic meet. In a world of sentient pig-folk, young Lily dreams of flying, though everyone knows that if pigs were meant to fly, they’d have wings. Her inventor father has been working, with no success, to build a flying machine that’s all science, with no temporary magic to make it work, and she secretly sets out to build her own. When she succeeds, her father doesn’t have the time and respect for her to pay attention when she tries to tell him. Then Pigdom Plains comes under attack from enemy warthog aircraft, and Lily takes to the skies to defend her home.
She is hailed as a hero by the press, dubbed “the angel of Swillington” and “the aerial Honker,” but her father is furious that she’s put herself in danger. She rebels, taking off again in her plane (with just a bit of magical help in the form of a protection spell). Lily follows the warthog attackers back across the mountains, to reconnoiter and perhaps reason with them, and there she finds dangers she could not have imagined. The warthogs have a new dictator, who’s using dark and dangerous magic to fuel his plans to take over Pigdom Plains. And now Lily is his prisoner.
But even in the dark city of the warthogs, there are friends who are fighting for freedom, who help Lily escape to pursue and harass the flotilla of enemy aircraft on their way to destroy her homeland. Lily has learned that science and magic aren’t mutually exclusive, and with the help of both, the day is saved…just barely. The story concludes with the promise of future peace and cooperation between the two races of pig-folk, sending a hopeful message, and with the appealing suggestion that there are many more adventures in store for Lily and her beloved plane!
This world of sentient swine-folk resembles early 20th-century-America. It seems at first a very simple place, but once Lily gets over the mountains, the world grows dramatically in complexity, with other cultures introduced and mythology and magic becoming more important to the story. A double-spread map of Pigdom Plains is the first thing you see when you open the book, and it sets the stage nicely, suggesting that this is a more epic adventure than simply the story of a girl learning to build her own airplane.
The anthropomorphic pigs, nicely dressed in period clothes, are still recognizable porcine, but not so very different in appearance from human people (barring snouts, trotters, and warthog tusks) that they are unrelatable. Lily is the epitome of a plucky, clever girl, and a fine role model for any kid who has the urge to invent and tinker (or take to the skies in pursuit of the enemy).
This is a great one to offer any kid who is still fairly new to the wonders of graphic novels today! I’m a huge fan of offering books like these to older elementary school kids who are “reluctant readers,” as they are more friendly than hefty chapter books (pictures!), and keep the pages turning very briskly indeed. If your young readers enjoy this one, offer them Zita the Spacegirl, by Ben Hatke, or Dragon Girl: the Secret Valley, by Jeff Weigel, for their next fantastic adventures in graphic novel reading.
Pigs Might Fly is on B&N bookshelves now!