Monday, January 7, 2013
Book Review: The Adventures of a South Pole Pig: A novel of snow and courage, by Chris Kurtz (Harcourt Children's Books, 2013)
Children's books are filled with memorable pig characters. Classics such as Freddie the Detective, Charlotte's friend Wilbur, and Babe the sheep-pig have been joined in more recent years by characters such as Poppleton, Mercy Watson, and Nanny Piggins. To those wonderful porcines we must add a new member: Flora the sled-pig.
What animal lover, young or old, could resist a book with the unlikely title: The Adventures of a South Pole Pig? How on earth would a pig wind up in the Antarctic, we wonder? Well, readers, never fear, author Chris Kurtz weaves indomitable piglet Flora into a charming South Pole adventure story filled with slops, friendship, danger, and humor.
Flora, a piglet on a farm that raises sled dogs, wants nothing more than to explore beyond the limits of the pigpen she shares with her mother and siblings. When she briefly escapes and has a chance to meet the dogs training at pulling sleds, she wants to join their pack, and soon is on the way to the South Pole with a bunch of dogs. While she thinks she has a special mission to help the sled dogs, the reader quickly suspects that the cook has other plans for her (bacon, anyone?). But when an iceberg hits their ship in the South Pole, it's the courageous Flora who saves the Captain's life. Few of her shipmates survive, and soon it's Flora who has the chance of a lifetime to prove her mettle as a brave and irreplaceable member of the pack. Will she succeed in helping to rescue her shipmates?
This story would make a terrific read-aloud for a classroom or family, as well as a novel that children 8-12 could read easily on their own. The novel has many appealing characters, among them a somewhat haughty cat, Sophia, who needs Flora's help to catch rats, a wise lead dog, Oscar, and a courageous young cabin boy, Aleric. The novel is enhanced with adorable black and white illustrations by Jennifer Black Reinhardt. Highly recommended!