Scholastic Press, 2013
hbk., RRP $A24.99
King Pig thinks he is just that – an autocratic leader who can get his minions, the sheep, to do anything they want. But while he could make them do such things as strap boards on their backs so he has a ramp into his sheep-free palace or pull down the branch of the apple tree so he could pick the fruit, and scrub his castle he just couldn’t make them like him. No matter how loudly he shouted, they didn’t listen properly; no matter how hard he tried to get their attention, the more they ignored him. Viewing himself in the mirror one day, he decided that a fancier set of clothes might be the answer. So he invited them into his castle and there they set to work.
To discover whether this works and if there is any way this arrogant pig can make friends, you need to read this brilliant book by one of Australia’s most popular authors. And you need to read the pictures as well as the words because the two not only work perfectly in harmony to tell the surface story, but they also tell a story of their own about power and bullying, making friends, arrogance and humility, do clothes maketh the man? – all great discussion starters that will help children reflect on the sorts of qualities that are shared and valued by friends.
Nick Bland has that unique gift of being able to tell a tale within a tale without being overtly didactic. The story can stand alone as entertainment without delving deeper and his appealing illustrations inject humour that tickle the fancy of even the youngest audience. When I recently reviewed The Runaway Hug I suggested that Nick Bland be the focus of an author/illustrator study (including links to some useful resources) and King Pig reinforces this belief. With a growing body of work to his name, Nick is becoming a well-known name amongst our younger readers and new stories are greeted with delight and appeal across the board because of the levels at which each can be read.