The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City, by Jodi Kendall (2017)

Contemporary Fiction
8-13
The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City, by Jodi KendallMiddle-schooler Josie Schilling feels invisible in her big family – she’s neither the eldest nor the youngest, and is often overlooked in the bustle of crowded life in a small city townhome. She focuses her energy on her gymnastics, but is struggling to manage the moves as her too-tall body makes it difficult. When her brother Tom comes home from college with an unwanted runt piglet, Josie’s love for animals kicks in and she convinces her parents to give little Hamlet a temporary home until she can find someone to adopt her. In reality, she is determined to make the case to keep Hamlet. But the little piglet grows quickly and soon gets into mischief, making Josie’s hopes for success increasingly unlikely. A reimagining of Josie’s favourite book, Charlotte’s Web, this story is set in an Ohio city where most of the kids on Josie’s street go to private school – not possible for her cash-strapped family, who don’t even have cable television or internet, which lets first-time author Kendall create a rather anachronistic world of children living old-school, with few distracting devices. This gives the book an old-fashioned feel (it reminds of Gone-Away Lake or Little Women) that lacks the diversity I would expect in a modern city. The cast of characters appear to be largely middle-class and white — there’s an ill-tempered neighbour with an Italian last name, and a pair of Latino siblings, but that’s about it. Oh, an Asian-American cop appears too. While Josie’s parents are busy and a bit distracted, they have created a strong family built on love and respect with cherished traditions. Josie turns more often to her friends and siblings to help with the things that cause her anxiety, and thinks through her problems in search of solutions. Authentic dialogue and solid characterization in a family-centred story – but by no means does it replace Charlotte’s Web!
More discussion and reviews of this novel: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33914003
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