The Adventures of Nanny Piggins, by R.A. Spratt (lexile: 880; AR book level: 6.2; 231 pp)
Children’s literature is replete* with nannies, from the redoubtable* Mary Poppins who first appeared in 1934, to Penelope Lumley of the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, published just last year. Many have been funny, some magical — but none has been a PIG, until now. Nanny Piggins is, indeed, a pig — but a sophisticated, clever, fashionable pig, with a sense of adventure, an insatiable appetite for chocolate, and a complete disregard for conventional rules of how children should be raised.
Most recently a circus performer (she was the flying pig shot out of a cannon), Nanny Piggins shows up at Mr Green’s door in response to the “Nanny Wanted” sign on his front lawn. He’s so tightfisted that he won’t pay a human, but a pig at 10 cents an hour will do. His three children — Derrick, Samantha, and Michael — soon discover that every day is an adventure with Nanny Piggins in charge. Need to buy school uniforms? Why not use the money for a trip to the amusement park instead, and make your own uniforms at home? Want Chinese food? Why not rent a boat and sail to China? And every day includes plenty of chocolate, and fun games like cockroach racing, Murder in the Dark, and throwing heavy objects off the roof of the house.
I read this book while camping one weekend, and it’s lucky no one was camping nearby — my laughter would have kept them awake. It’s clever, funny, and witty, written in something of the spirit of Roald Dahl (of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame). Each chapter is a separate episode, making this a wonderful read-aloud for bedtimes or an elementary classroom.
P.S. April 2013: We just got the sequel in our library: Nanny Piggins and the Wicked Plan — just as funny as the first one!
*TWO fancy words in one sentence:
replete — “full of”; redoubtable — “awe-inspiring”