Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pennie the Piglet

In Pennie the Piglet, written and illustrated by Carole Lehr Johnson, Pennie makes friends with the new girl at school, Barbara. Barbara is beautiful but she is also rude and pushy. When Pennie tells her mom about Barbara, her mom tells her that maybe Barbara needs a friend. She encourages Pennie to try and be friends with Barbara.

So Pennie does just that. The next day, when Barbara walks by her house, Pennie invites her into the yard to smell the honeysuckle. Much to Pennie’s surprise, Barbara agrees and then says she and Pennie can walk to school together. Pennie considers this the start of a friendship. Because Pennie is so excited to have a new friend, she decides to let Barbara in on a secret, something she hasn’t told anyone about. Pennie has a secret place where she loves to go and spend quiet time reading her books. She not only tells Barbara about it, she invites Barbara to share her secret place.

Barbara seems happy to be let in on the secret and share time with Pennie in her hide-out. She promises not to tell anyone about Pennie’s secret place. But [spoiler alert] when she does, what will Pennie do? Pennie’s mom says she should forgive her friend. But can Pennie do that? Will things ever be the same between them?

A handful of blank-and-white pencil sketches are scattered throughout the text.

What I Like: The story provides a good lesson about friendship and what it means to be a real friend.

What I Dislike: When Barbara is first introduced as a character, she is described as being beautiful, but the students in her class don’t like her because her beauty is all on the outside. She acts snobbish and stuck-up. There’s never any mention of her making friends with anyone until Pennie befriends her. But, near the end of the story, when Barbara betrays Pennie’s trust in her, suddenly Barbara has a whole group of girl friends. Up until this point, the reader is given the impression that Pennie was Barbara’s only friend.

Also, I’m not sure why the author felt the need to call the story Pennie the Piglet when there’s very little in the storyline that relates to pigs at all. Pennie’s last name is Littleton and Barbara’s is Stranford. The only character in the story with a pig-sounding name is a neighbor called Mrs. Thigpen. It’s not a problem; I just think the story would have been just as good without making the characters into animals.

Overall Rating: Good.

Age Appeal: 6-12.

Publisher Info: PublishAmerica,  2007; ISBN: 1424170192; Paperback, $9.95.

Buy now at $16.17!

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