age range: 8-12
genre: contemporary fiction
The tone and characters are reminiscent of classics… A charming tale, ideal for fans of Jeanne Birdsall’s The Penderwicks…
— School Library Journal
Heartwarming and satisfying.
Jodi Kendall’s utterly charming, heartfelt story of the unlikely bond between a girl and a pig just goes to show that sometimes it takes a little pig with a big heart to bring a family together again. Move over Wilbur, there’s a new pig in town!
— Bobbie Pyron, critically-acclaimed author of A Dog’s Way Home
Please tell us about your book.
In THE UNLIKELY STORY OF A PIG IN THE CITY, 11-year-old Josie Shilling makes it her mission to save the piglet named Hamlet that her brother brings home from college, as she and Hamlet each struggle to find their place in a crowded, chaotic family. It starts on Thanksgiving Day and ends on New Year’s Day, so there are cozy holiday moments tied in with Josie’s gymnastics team, big family, neighborhood friends, and of course her city pig adventures.
What inspired you to write this story?
When I was thirteen, my college-aged brother rescued a runt farm piglet destined for death. He snuck it into his dorm room in a football helmet and a few days later, over holiday break, showed up at our house with a squirmy pink piglet in his arms.
Dad wanted it out. Mom was sympathetic. My siblings and I rallied together on a mission to save her. The adventures we had over the next few months, as the tiny piglet grew into an 180 pound hog, have now become family legend. The Columbus Dispatch even wrote an article about our pig in 1994! This experience of bonding with a pet (the piglet was the first in a long line of ducks, hamsters, rabbits, dogs, fish, and a green iguana that joined our family of seven over the years) contributed to my life-long love for animals and the unique relationships we have with them.
Could you share with readers how you conducted your research or share a few interesting tidbits you learned while researching?
We had a pet pig a long time ago, so I did quite a bit of research when drafting and editing the book. I spent much of 2015 at a public farm outside New York City (a wonderful place called Muscoot Farm) where there were two sets of piglets that summer. I captured video, snapped photographs, and scribbled endless notes on farm pig behaviors (I wish I had a photo of the farmer’s face when I asked him if I could sit in the pigpen and write!). I also had a friend of a friend in Connecticut who had two pet pigs, and she let me hang out with them and answered all my questions about feeding, pig socialization, cleanliness, etc. And of course, there are endless adorable pig videos on YouTube.
What topics does your book touch upon that would make it a perfect fit for the classroom?
THE UNLIKELY STORY OF A PIG IN THE CITY evolved from my own experiences growing up in a big, chaotic family, caring for an adorable piglet, and worrying about finding her a forever home—as well as learning how to deal with growing pains in my own secret ways, and feeling like so many important things were out of my control. This is a story about unconditional love, belonging and acceptance, and getting bigger when you’ve always felt small.
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