The Pig In The Pond

Pigs don’t swim, or so it’s said. But on one of the hottest days of the summer, the pig on Neligan’s farm sits by the pond feeling envious of the ducks and the geese floating in the cool water. Finally, when she can endure the heat no longer—splash!—this sweltering pig takes a dive, throwing the entire farm into an uproar. It isn’t long, however, before the refreshing idea catches on, and the pig finds that she’s got company! This spirited tale with its exuberant illustrations is sure to be a hit with all those young and old who ever wanted to take the plunge.

One thought on “The Pig In The Pond

  1. Kathleen Crawford-Mckinney & Jean Schroeder says:

    Kathleen: Last week we took on the Somewhat Bad Wolf through a version of the Three Little Pigs, and this week we decided to connect that book to Pig in the Pond by Martin Waddell with illustrations by Jill Barton. The humorous theme continues in the adventures of a pig who longs to take on something not normally done by pigs, through the cartoon styled illustrations of a very cute pig who was “stamping her feet and twirling her tail and….. ”
    Jean: The Pig in the Pond is an older book that passes the test of time. It is still hilarious every time I read it. One of the things that make me smile are Barton’s illustrations. I think she captures the essence of the story.
    Kathleen: The series of pig pictures show a growing sadness in the pig’s expression as she watches the ducks and geese enjoying the water. Her ears are up and she is facing forward first and slowly her ears drop, her body slumps and turns away from the pond. Even her little piggy tail seems to lose its curl. The longing and temptation to do something that cultural norms forbid is strong. It is like the child looking at a plate of cookies and being told he couldn’t have any.
    Jean: Once she makes a decision to become the first swimming pig, her expression changes again. Is that a bit of a naughty girl glint in her eye? She does a pig-jig to get ready to jump in the pond? And the double page spread of the big splash is just filled with exuberance and self-satisfaction.
    Kathleen: I have always wondered if the ducks and geese were actually trying to encourage Neligan’s pig to swim. The text stays neutral in the sense that it just indicates that pigs don’t swim.
    Jean: The ducks and geese are talking, but I do not have an accurate translation for “Quack!” and “Honk”. Are they saying, “Stay away from our pond!” or could it be that they are saying, “Hey, the water is great! Come on in!”
    Kathleen: As the story progresses we do hear what the animals are saying which brings us to another point – that being how quickly the word spread around the farm that the pig was in the pond. Gossip at its finest. It reminds me so much of what people do, except the animals all got it right. There were no deviations or different versions of the content, but the animals were scandalized all the same. What I really liked at this point was the playful language that occurs during the “gossip” dialogue. It reminded me of a song from The Music Man, where the gossipers spread the word, in groups of two or three. Much like that scene, in The Pig in Pond you can hear the musicality of the text through the illustrations of the animals spreading their gossip that “The pig’s in the pond!”
    Jean: And then Neligan returns from town to discover disgruntled ducks and geese as well as a wide-eyed audience of the farm community. You can see the wheels turning in Neligan’s head as he processes the situation and makes a decision, captivating his audience since they were sure the pig would be in trouble. The scene resembles a classroom where the teacher stepped out for a minute and has just returned to questionable behavior.
    Kathleen: Society can be very judgmental about thinking out of the box. Neligan’s audience was an easy crowd to convince that joining the pig in the pond was an acceptable behavior. They all join in, normalizing the activity. It is interesting to think about whether it will become the norm or if things will move back into established societal values and be considered as something only to be done in extreme circumstances.
    Jean: Backing up a bit, when the ducks and geese are displaced from the pond and Neligan arrives to discover the pig’s in the pond, the birds seem to have their beaks out of joint. I wonder if they are tattling on the pig in an effort to remove her from their space. When you have a good thing going for you, it is hard to relinquish and share.
    Kathleen: Sharing is sometimes so difficult. I was going to say sharing is difficult for young people, but it is often just as difficult for adults especially when it comes to space. We are very protective of our space. There are spaces we are willing to share and others -not so much.
    Jean: There are some cultural norms to consider here as well. There is a personal space range that we are comfortable with but that varies from culture to culture. When I find that someone is standing too close to me, it is often someone who has grown up in a different culture or country. It is the norm for them.
    Kathleen: I like the predictability in this story. There are lots of instances where kids can make a prediction of what might follow on the next page. Another aspect is the rhythm and flow of this story. It has an even flow, which makes it a joy to read aloud.
    Jean: Yes. The author uses short sentences and a bit of rhyme to enhance the flow. “It was hot. It was dry. /The sun shone in the sky.” The rhyme is just tucked into the text in a few places.
    Kathleen: All in all, this entire book is a hit with all ages. There are metaphors for the adult reading it aloud and lots of opportunity to ham it up (no pun intended) with expressive voices.
    Jean: Not to mention the unmentionable – Neligan removes his UNDERWEAR! There is no better word to get a response from kids then the word UNDERWEAR! Good laughs for everyone. We have to be able to laugh at ourselves.
    Kathleen: We could do a whole month on the humor of underwear in texts. But, might this be a forecasting of the how we connect next week’s book?

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