Thursday, 4 May 2017

Old Pig

Old Pig written by Margaret Wild and illustrated by Ron Brooks (Allen and Unwin) HB RRP $24.99  ISBN 9781760293895

Reviewed by Daniela Andrews

It’s hard to believe it has been over 20 years since Old Pig, a heartwarming tale about the circle of life, won the CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award (1995). Thereafter, it went on to receive a number of other awards and nominations around the globe!

Granddaughter and Old Pig have lived together for a very long time, sharing everything – including their daily chores. When Old Pig hints that she might not ‘live forever’, Granddaughter feels afraid. Then Old Pig starts to feel tired and, one day, doesn’t even get out of bed. Granddaughter is very worried. When Old Pig forces herself to get out of the house the next day, saying she has lots to do and ‘must be prepared’, Granddaughter knows she must soon say good bye.

Old Pig sets about returning library books, closing accounts and paying bills. Then she comes back for Granddaughter and, together, they take a walk around the town so Old Pig can ‘feast’, but not on food … ‘on the trees, the flowers, the sky – on everything!’ What follows is a beautiful celebration of the senses and of nature. Old Pig teaches Granddaughter to appreciate the colours, smells, sounds and tastes of the world. In the heartwarming end to the story, Granddaughter holds Pig tightly as she sleeps – just like Old Pig used to hold her at night when she was little.

Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks have brought us much joy with their countless contributions to children’s literature. (They are also the award-winning team behind the book Fox, which won the CBCA Picture Book of the Year Award in 2001.)

Ron Brooks’ expressive illustrations are well suited to the thought-provoking text. His gentle line work – subtle forehead creases, downcast eyes or mouths and posture – perfectly evokes the emotions of the pigs. It is wonderful to see this new hardcover release of the book, marking its 20-year anniversary. It will no doubt touch the hearts of a whole new generation of young readers.

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