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Cover image for What this story needs is a pig in a wig
What this story needs is a pig in a wig

First edition.
New York, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2015]
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 24 cm
Series title(s):
General Note:
"A pig in a wig book"--Cover.
Illustrations and rhyming, easy-to-read text introduce an increasing, then decreasing, cast of characters sharing a boat in a moat with a pig in an enormous wig.
Reading Level:
Ages 4-8.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 1.8 0.5 176223.

Accelerated Reader AR 1.8 0.5 176223.


Call Number

On Order



What this story needs is a pig in a wig, on a boat in a moat with a frog, a dog, and a goat on a log. . . .

As a panda in a blouse, a skunk on a trunk, and more hop on board, it becomes clear that what this story really needs is a bigger boat! Join Pig on an exciting boat ride as she discovers that life is more fun with friends in this fantastic funny read-aloud with cumulative text from author-illustrator Emma J. Virján.

The "What This Story Needs..." books are bright and lively and inspire giggles. "A story with echoes of Seuss and Willems," School Library Journal said in a starred review of What This Story Needs Is a Hush and a Shush.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Toddler-PreS-With its engaging word families and rhyming text, this circular narrative will delight fans of Laura Joffe Numeroff's If You Give a Mouse a Cookie (HarperCollins, 2005) and Mo Willems's "Elephant and Piggy" books (Hyperion). A pig in a wig is on a boat in a moat, where she picks up a frog, a dog, and a goat on a log. More animals are added to the mix, until Pig declares, "Hey!/It's getting crowded/in here,/don't you think?/Off of this boat/before we all sink!" One by one they disembark until she is the only one left on the boat. A spread in muted blue tones enforces the mood as readers view Pig all alone in her tiny boat. She realizes that she would rather have all her friends with her, so as the text states, "What this story needs now is." a bigger boat appears that will hold everyone. Crisp, vibrant drawings are rendered in charcoal and painted digitally, creating an intensity that will draw children to the story. The composition is creative, with pig-themed elements appearing throughout: pink snouts cover the endpapers, a pig pulls part of a boat onto the title page, and the back cover shows Pig and her friends peeking over the jacket flap as she says, "Hey, Let's Play!" VERDICT This is a charming story to share one-on-one or in a storytime.-Melissa Smith, Royal Oak Public Library, MI © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

In a story with echoes of Seuss and Willems, Virján (Nacho the Party Puppy) offers a very funny lesson about the unreliability of narrators. "What this story needs," the unseen narrator declares, "is a pig." Fair enough: the pig, pink and drawn in a naïve cartoon style, appears in a spotlight. When the narrator decrees that the pig don a red bouffant wig and climb in a boat in a moat "with a frog,/ a dog,/ and a goat on a log," the pig goes along with the plan, though it's clear dubiousness is setting in. But when the narrator keeps adding so many rhyming characters and objects that it imperils everyone on board the tiny pink ship, the pig finally speaks up. "Hey!" she calls out, "It's getting crowded in here, don't you think?/ Off of this boat before we all sink!" Taking control of the narration, the pig sends the other animals packing, but the final scene sets things right while tipping its hat to a classic line from Jaws. Ages 4-8. Agent: Edite Kroll, Edite Kroll Literary Agency. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

What this story needs is a pig. / A pig in a wig, / on a boat, / in a moat, / with a frog." Add six more animals and a house and the boat becomes so crowded that the pig sends everyone swimming. The story is predictable, but the precariously posed animals in Virjan's digitally painted charcoal sketches engage in antics that add some hilarity. (c) Copyright 2015. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

One pig, one boat, and a lot of passengers add up to one hilarious voyage. The opening spread presents one pink pig under a spotlight. Her beady eyes look right at the reader as she says, "What this story needs is a pig." Apparently a pig is not enoughthe story needs a pig in a wig, an oversized red wig. So begins this over-the-top rhyming romp of a pig in a boat, in a moat, with a frog and a dog and a goat (on a login the boat!). Soon a rat, an elephant, a skunk, a house, a mouse, and a panda threaten to sink the little pink rowboat, forcing the pig to send some of the critters packing. Bright, saturated digital colors are the order of the day, adding extra humor to the tale. Easy rhymes make the story simple to predict and memorize for new readers, and the bright white typeface is clear on the dark backgrounds. Carefully chosen, easily decoded words ensure that beginning readers will find instant success here. The slowly filling boat and ridiculous situation add to the fun. Observant readers will enjoy finding the pig snouts drawn on the boat's prow and hidden in many of the spreads. Even the endpapers are filled with them. There's not much of a story here, but a boatload of giggles will keep children returning for more easy-to-read fun. (Early reader. 3-6) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

New York Review of Books Review

A CHILDREN'S BOOKS EDITOR once asked me what kind of books were needed most in libraries. My immediate response was, "Beginning readers!" Then I had a question: Why aren't there more available? The editor's reply was just as fast: "Because they're too hard to write." That's tough to argue with. The vocabulary matters (so-called sight words, which are short, commonly used words that are typically memorized, are a hallmark) but so does sentence length and structure; compound sentences can confuse new readers. The plot needs to be established quickly, and there should be predictable elements to help a child decode the language. And lest one think, "That doesn't sound too hard," there are also design factors to consider, including the font, the number of lines per page, the amount of space between words and lines and the placement of illustrations. It's also a category of children's books that has had quite the evolution, beginning with those simplified readers in the 1930s ("Dick and Jane" being the most notorious) and on to the more verbally and narratively adventurous Dr. Seuss and James Marshall. In recent years Mo Willems's Elephant and Piggie books, featuring a comical pair of mismatched but devoted friends, have been perhaps the most popular. But at long last, just as Willems is winding down that beloved series, the beginning-readers category is showing some exciting new developments. Bob Shea's new "Ballet Cat" series features two precocious best friends, Ballet Cat and Sparkles, who is a pony, though somehow about the same size as Ballet Cat. In the first book, "The Totally Secret Secret," the two pals are having trouble compromising on what to do. Ballet Cat, of course, wants to play ballet. Sparkles would rather do something else but is afraid he'll lose Ballet Cat as a friend if he expresses his true desires. While readers may see parallels with Elephant and Piggie, they'll soon realize that they are very much in the world of Shea, the author and illustrator of the "Dinosaur vs." picture book series. Besides Shea's familiar manic style, featuring characters drawn with thick, crayonlike black outlines on brightly colored pages, there is more innocence, and a cinematic feel, with a lot of physical action. (The Elephant and Piggie books, by contrast, have a Woody Allen-esque quality: wry, sophisticated humor with a heavy dose of malaise and angst.) As Sparkles grows increasingly scared to let on that he doesn't want to play ballet, the text gets smaller and the "camera" zooms in on Sparkles' concerned face until the big secret is revealed. But Ballet Cat has one of her own: In a twist that readers may see coming, Ballet Cat shares that she loves Sparkles even more than ballet. With order restored, the two begin a game of checkers. There are many visual clues to help early readers, but they'll also be likely to fall for these two sweet friends who want nothing more than to be together. Similarly graphic, but much simpler in style and tone, is Emma J. Virján's series kickoff "What This Story Needs Is a Pig in a Wig." Bordered panels throughout give a basic graphic novel feeling; however, when the action in the story calls for it, the borders dissolve and the colorful illustrations dramatically extend to the page's edge. Pig puts on a flamboyant red wig and gets in a boat, where she is quickly joined by many animal friends. Pig quickly panics about the possibility of the boat sinking and kicks everyone out; they swim to an island with a castle. You know what happens next: Pig misses her friends and invites them back ... to a bigger boat. With its frequent use of sight words and a story line that builds on itself, this is a great choice for absolute beginners and - bonus! - it has a true story arc, with a plot about friendship and cooperation. Searching for pig snouts hidden in the illustrations is an added delight. Another pig that will win fans was created by the prolific author, poet and artist Douglas Florian. The hero of "Pig Is Big on Books" reads them everywhere: home, school, the bus. He reads all sizes of books, he reads alone, and he reads in the company of others. But what's a pig to do when he can't find a book to read? Of course, he creates his own book ... in fact, he created this book! The lightly handled alliteration and rhyme, along with the monosyllabic and repeated vocabulary, will help fledgling readers decipher the text, and the winning narrative arc emphasizes problem-solving and the importance of reading - even as a communal activity. But the art may be the true star here. Florian's highly detailed yet painterly illustrations were created with gouache watercolor, colored pencil and collage on primed paper bag. The result is lovely, textured illustration that begs readers to touch the page. "In, Over and On! (the Farm)" also beckons the inexperienced reader. The text, contained in speech bubbles, is extremely spare and heavy on sight words. In each of the three "chapters," Ethan Long explores a different pair of prepositions: For instance, in "I Am On," the pig is on the tractor and is joined by the cow and the goat. When the tractor rolls down the hill, the farm animals are ejected from the vehicle and "now we are off." A large flap at the end of each chapter adds a tactile element while giving visual clues to the text, which is helpful when a new reader is struggling to identify a word. This would also be an excellent read-aloud to toddlers, especially with Long's graphic, bright, highly contrasting illustrations. One rising trend in early readers is the use of comic book elements in the artwork. It's a format extremely well suited to beginners, as speech bubbles clearly separate the text from the illustrations, and the paneled structure moves the story along in a natural way that gives essential visual clues to what's going on. Eleanor Davis and Drew Weing's "Flop to the Top!," part of TOON Books' Easy-to-Read Comics series, is a strong example of this trend. A note from the publisher explains why this one is for a slightly more experienced reader (a larger vocabulary and time shifts in the story line). Davis and Weing also have something to say about emotions and relationships. Wanda is a young narcissist determined to become a "star," at the expense of her family's happiness and comfort. The hilariously deadpan family dog, Wilbur, takes the brunt of Wanda's self-involvement. But when Wilbur unintentionally rises to fame - and abandons the family to go party with Sassy Cat - Wanda is bereft and must confront her past offenses. There is a lot going on here, including an underlying commentary about social media use, celebrity obsession and struggles with emotional expression. But Wanda's over-the-top personality juxtaposed with Wilbur's inscrutable countenance lightens the mood and saves the story from becoming too moralistic. Here's hoping Sassy Cat gets her own book next.