________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 30. . . .April 8, 2016


Sky Pig.

Jan L. Coates. Illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo.
Toronto, ON: Pajama Press, 2016.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-927485-98-9.

Subject Headings:
Pigs-Juvenile fiction.
Flight-Juvenile fiction.
Children and animals-Juvenile fiction.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7.

Review by Amber Allen.

*** /4

Reviewed from F&Gs.



Garden stakes, twine, and a feed sack—Ollie dropped them into Jack’s lap, then pointed his snout at the kites.

“Really?” Jack asked. Ollie nodded.


internal artOllie the pig is a dreamer, and one windy day, in the presence of all matter of flying things, Ollie dreams of soaring through the sky. Everyone knows that pigs can’t fly, but that doesn’t stop Ollie and his best friend Jack from making a few calculated attempts. With the pig’s imagination and the boy’s engineering skills, the friends come up with a series of flying contraptions, but they all, inevitably, end with the same result—CRASH! Sometimes it takes time and patience to solve a problem, and, with a little of both, Jack finally gets to send Ollie off into the sky.

     Sky Pig is an inspirational story of two friends who have the courage to dream big and the persistence to see it through. The text is surprisingly sparse, but I suppose it mimics the language of true friendship where all that is sometimes needed is a nod or a look and one is understood completely by the other. Perhaps, since we as readers are not as intimately connected to the duo, a few more words would help in setting up the plot (I initially thought a page was missing), but the artwork does more than enough to fill in the blanks.

     Del Rizzo has created a series of tiny masterpieces in illustrating this book. The images, produced using “plasticine, polymer clay, paper collage, milkweed fluff, watch gears, and other doodads”, are a true sight to behold. Each image is full of intent and detail, worth poring over at length. For the child, small sight gags accompany the larger humour of the story, and for the art enthusiast, the use of materials is inspired.

     There are many takeaways from this story. The strongest message is: dare to dream, but be prepared to work at it. Both Jack and Ollie show tenacity as they are continuously met with disappointment. That which is worthwhile does not always come easy. Children can be asked about their own experiences with defeat and success (Tying shoes? Riding a bike? Drawing a cat?). Another heartwarming lesson is the selflessness demonstrated by Jack. He works tirelessly to build the devices Ollie dreams up, and his only reward is his companion’s happiness. We can only assume that in other adventures Ollie is just as accommodating to his friend.

     The combination of humour and visual appeal makes Sky Pig a picture book worth picking up.


Amber Allen is a librarian in Toronto, ON, with a passion for children’s literature and writing.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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