Book talk: Flora is a pig, but she tries not to act like one. While her siblings are all happy to stay safe in their pen, Flora dreams of adventure. One day she sneaks out and sees the dogs training to pull a sled in the South Pole. They look so noble as they race by, working together to pull their load. From that day on Flora is determined to join them. She runs as fast as she can and builds up her strength. When the farmer goes to pick a pig to send away with them, Flora is quick to volunteer and leave the pen and her family behind. Everyone thinks that the idea of a sled pig is ridiculous, but Flora knows that soon she will get her chance to prove just how strong and brave she is.
Rocks my socks: I fell in love with this book on the first page and it only grew in my esteem from there. It reminds me of Charlotte's Web and A Tale of Despereaux and I easily see it joining their ranks as a children's classic. Flora is wonderfully plucky and I love the way she is ready and eager to face danger. Perhaps even more admirable than her at times foolhardy courage is the way that she is so open and friendly to everyone, even if they give her reason not to be. The dramatic irony was almost too much to bear at times as Flora continued on blissfully unaware of the fact that she was brought on the voyage not to pull but to be eaten. When she finally finds out, Kurtz allows her to be sad and doubt herself for a while, which makes it all the more moving when her friends rally around her and she regains her faith in herself. This isn't the story of one brave soul succeeding despite the odds, it's a story about the value of working together and inspiring others to hang in even when times get though. Flora isn't the only one who has troubles, and she gets to use her own story as inspiration for others. On top of all of that, the illustrations are delightful.
Every book its reader: This book would make an excellent read-aloud to a class. The language is simple, the animals are appealing, and there is a lot of heart and wisdom in the book. Children will easily be able to relate to the way everyone underestimates Flora because of her size and will root for her and be eager to hear what happens next. The reading level puts it at around third grade, but it could be read aloud to a first grade class.
Chris Kurtz has a site with more information about him and his books.
"How unlucky she was--born with adventurous hooves that were stuck inside a pen. But she wasn't giving up. If there was a way out, Flora said to herself, she would find it."
"This was a cruel world she had been born into, all pink and squirming. She'd never wanted to see reality. Now, like the cold, it was impossible to ignore."
"You'll never make it out there. You weren't made for South Pole adventures."
Flora gave her an icy look. "I think I know by now what I was made for."
"I used to be a fool...A stubborn fool. I didn't know enough to stand by my friends. Now I'm just stubborn."
"Cats may have nine lives, but pigs . . . don't . . . give . . . up."
"I think we're all aiming to be something better than what everyone thinks we were born to be, and that makes us even more of a team. We have to stick together."
Source: school library
The Adventures of a South Pole Pig by Chris Kurtz: buy it or check it out today!