Small Pig by Arnold Lobel


Small Pig by Arnold LobelChildren Small Pig
Arnold Lobel; Tandem Library 1999

Reviewed by Molly

Arnold Lobel’s Small Pig an I can read book is one of my favorites of his works for children in the Kindergarten Primary level, the level where I spent the most of my nearly forty years in the public school classroom.

Diminutive porker, Small Pig, likes to do all the things other pigs like to do; he eats, he sleeps, and HE sinks down in nice soft mud. Not only does Small Pig like to roll in mud, but he really likes to sink deep, deep down in it and just enjoy nice squishiness. The farmer and his wife do love their little pig.

One day the farmer’s wife determines that she needs to some cleaning.  With her giant vacuum cleaner she cleans the farm house.   Once started she simply cannot stop. Oh My. Out of the house she goes to clean the barn, and the stable, and the chicken coop.  She keeps cleaning until finally, she comes to the pigpen where Small Pig is a happy little porker. And, she begins to clean it up. First she cleans the pigpen.  Next she puts Small Pig into a soapy pail, where she CLEANS Small Pig.

The Farmer’s Wife is happy; everything is spick-and-span and shiny. Small Pig is not happy. Small Pig is unhappy, and, he is an angry small porker.

Small Pig decides to run away.

Before long; Small Pig comes to a swamp. And he comes to a junkyard.  He even comes to a big city. At last he finds some good soft mud.  Small Pig sinks down into that good soft mud, then, too late Small Pig recognizes he has made a terrible, horrible mistake. Small Pig is held in the mud; mud that is getting hard and harder because it is not mud, it is cement! People stop to watch as Small Pig struggles to get free.

At length, The Farmer and his wife locate their Small Pig.   Ultimately Small Pig is freed from the cement.  Home go The Farmer, his Wife and Small Pig.   The Farmer’s wife promises Small Pig she will do no more cleaning of his pigpen.

A very happy Small Pig has his supper before he sits down, and sinks down into his nice, soft mud.

Jam-packed with easy-to-read vocabulary and child pleasing, characteristic Lobel illustrations Small Pig has proven to be a long time, much loved, favorite in my K-1 classrooms. Ludicrousness, exhilarating action, and short, simple, child friendly sentences afford a tangible delight for emergent readers, as well as those who enjoy reading Lobel’s books to them. Little Readers, adults and student aide readers, and, I particularly enjoy the low key, Lobel illustrations.

I find children nowadays often seem so overawed with clamor and pizzazz, fancy and glimmer, noise, TV and game machines and bombast from their youngest days; that they habitually come to Kindergarten or First Grade expecting to be entertained, cannot amuse themselves without ongoing activity and/or cannot be alone and happy with themselves.

It is not a constructive or healthy thing, considers this long time teacher, for children to be unable to just sit quietly and appreciate the sunshine, or watch a butterfly just for the joy of sitting in the sunshine and watching a butterfly, or to miss laying on their back watching soundless clouds moving overhead, or to use their mind’s eye to fill in the blanks as they read.

Small Pig proffers many prospects for children to discuss feelings, and what they see, in addition to building vocabulary using creative descriptions for what else the illustrator might have put into the pictures on the page.

Arnold Lobel was one of the key providers to the I Can Read sequence. Copyrighted in 1969, Small Pig was Lobel’s first contribution to the series. Both, authoring and illustrating a diversity of stories regarding an assortment of creatures; Lobel has been a continuing favorite of children, parents and teachers for decades.

In general; for the extent of a career spanning nearly thirty years and producing nearly 100 books for children; illustrator/writer Lobel’s works target four- to eight-year-olds. To his honor, Lobel was recipient with the prestigious Caldecott Medal more than once for exceptional illustrations on top of his receiving a Newbery Honor for his writing.  The earth lost a marvelous creative mind when Arnold Lobel died in 1987.

Small Pig is the book selected often by my students for their free choice reading, or is brought to me as their selection for reading on ‘their special day to choose the book … one of the perks because they are the leader of the day.

Each of Lobel’s books has a place on the reading shelf in the children’s library, and, I believe none more so than Small Pig.   This child pleasing work is a must have for the classroom book shelf, as well as the school, home and public library list.

I like the hard cover edition for the classroom library and the paperback for the take home to read to parents and family activity.

Small Pig is a read-to for the 2-5 set, a read with help for beginning readers K-2, and a read alone grades 2-3. Small Pig is a book chosen by grades 4 – 5 readers to take and read to ‘the little kids.’   I’m not sure who enjoys the book more, the children listening or the teacher or student aide or other Reader reading to the children.

Over the years each class has offered two thumbs up each when asked for an opinion of Arnold Lobel’s Small Pig.   Delighted to recommend.

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