Lady Muck

Book review by
Peter Lewis, Common Sense Media
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Unusual settings and challenging language.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the language is smart and challenging.

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What's the story?

William Mayne's tale of two greedy but likable pigs delights in imaginative wordplay. The hungry porkers get their just desserts through a series of misadventures that alternate between low and clever humor. Jonathan Heale's handsome artwork lends a fairy-tale feeling to the story and shows off the principal characters' eccentricity.


Is it any good?

Jonathan Heale's woodblock illustrations are captivating, but it's William Mayne's writing that grabs the reader with its playfulness. He turns the words as if they're on a lathe, shaping them to fit: "Go snuffly and diggy fat sweet rooties," says the sneaky Sowk. "That will happy me, Boark, my Boarky dear, from grunt to squeal." The pure joy of language is always present. And that joy is infectious: A class of 8-year-olds barked with laughter when they heard words like firkle and potatio, and then they made up their own words.

The watercolors, together with the woodcuts, keep the story flowing along. The tale's imagery might remind readers of Maurice Sendak's In the Night Kitchen, and Heale's woodblocks recall the presence of the title characters in Arthur Geisert's Pigs From 1 to 10.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about language. Some of these words are made-up: Pick a few, and talk about what you think they mean. How did you decide on that meaning? Try making up some of your own words, and have others guess what they might mean.

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