A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Being a pig owner teaches Becca a lot about animal care. She learns all about feeding, caring for, training, and predicting the intelligent responses of pigs. She also learns about factory farming and systemized management of livestock.
Having a special interest or skill can bring you joy and help you find your place in life. Being a good person is important. Family is where you find strength and support. It will make you feel good about yourself if you figure out what you are supposed to do with your life. If you are a bad person, learn how to become a good person before you grow up. Just keep being you. Sometimes if people understand you, they will treat you better. Being a pet owner can make you into a responsible person. If something doesn't kill you, it can make you stronger. Being open and transparent is important. Sending good, healing thoughts to people or animals can help them feel better. Kids can make a difference in their world. Speaking up and acting on your beliefs can help make positive changes.
Positive Role Models
Becca's parents are very involved in the quadruplets' lives. They schedule, support, care for, and engage with their kids. The family takes walks together nightly and are very connected. When Becca needs support, her parents make monetary, emotional, and physical efforts to help (e.g. sleeping on the floor with her). Becca's brother, Bailey, has Cerebral Palsy, but shows how he can overcome many of his challenges. Becca's grandmother lives with them, and is supportive at times, but also behaves unpredictably now that she's at an advanced age. Becca's mom is part Japanese. The other characters are presumably White.
Violence & Scariness
Becca gets angry feelings, thinking she would "destroy" anyone who might even consider hurting her dad. She threatens to poke her brother with a stick. The siblings witness animal cruelty on a very large scale. Animals are wounded, sick, and dying in large numbers.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Cynthia Kadohata's Saucy is a funny book that takes a critical look at factory farming and animal cruelty. Becca and her brothers are quadruplets, being raised in suburban Ohio by her two parents and their grandmother, who lives with them. Becca feels like she is a "bad" person because she dumped her best friend MacKenzie, who became a "non person" at school after her mom got arrested (we never find out why she was arrested, only that she had been given a second chance after the family relocated). Becca finds a pig on the side of the road one night on a family walk, and after taking it to the hospital to have it treated for mange and malnutrition, keeps it. But because Saucy is a Yorkshire pig, and will grow to be 600 pounds, the family has to make a tough decision about her future.
Is It Any Good?
This is a masterful, funny story about a girl and her newfound best friend, a memorable pig with a lot of character. Saucy is a symphony of many parts working together. There's a quirky protagonist with an upbeat -- but maybe flawed? -- nature. There's a family where everyone is walking to his or her own tune, but all band together when required. There's a mysterious, dark undertone. And there's a diva named Saucy. And Saucy has needs-- no, she has demands! She demands to be fed in large quantities whenever she wants to-- she'll chew through Becca's mom's vegetable garden just for show. She'll tip chairs to make a point, and she'll plow through screen doors if she hears a potato chip bag opening. Saucy, in short, is more than "one smart pig." She's one smart pig with a magnificent personality.
Kids will relate to Becca's desire to take risks for Saucy because, "owning a pig obviously involved all kinds of quick executive decisions." Owning a pig is a chance for Becca to show the world that she's responsible enough and good enough to own a pig. Even school bullies don't matter as much when you've got a pig like Saucy in your life. She's Becca's purpose, her thing. But Saucy's past carries an overwhelming secret, which kids will also appreciate -- the adult world is complicated and sometimes scary. In this story, though, love and commitment triumph over pain, and it shows that when all of the different parts work together, harmony can be achieved.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.