Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: Realistic/Animal Fiction
What did you like about the book? Jasmine lives on a farm with her family in the English countryside. She loves all kinds of animals, and spends a lot of time learning about and caring for them, both on the home front and when accompanying her veterinarian mother on housecalls. On one such visit to a neighbor’s farm, Jasmine discovers a runt in a new litter of piglets. She decides to tuck the runt into her coat and bring it home to raise, unbeknownst to her mother or the curmudgeonly farmer who owns the pigs.
What follows is what you might expect; Jasmine manages to keep the piglet hidden for about a day, and when her parents find out, there is much pleading and negotiating with little result. Along with her best friend Tom, Jasmine begins training the piglet to be a sniffer pig – useful for truffle hunting as well as police work. Over Christmas break, Jasmine agrees to take care of Tom’s guinea pigs while he is away. When the guinea pigs’ hutch blows over and they go missing, it’s up to Jasmine and Truffle to find them before a big snowstorm blankets the farm. A happy Christmas morning ending leaves the reader looking forward to the next installment.
The first in a series of 6 books, originally published in the UK in 2016, A Piglet Called Truffle is a cozy but realistic snapshot of farm life and family dynamics. The author doesn’t flinch about the realities of working with animals – sad and awkward moments are included along with the cute and cuddly ones. Many pages are illustrated with sweetly detailed pencil drawings, which add to the overall hominess of the story.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Sensible British matter-of-factness about nursing piglets and the death of a favorite chicken might make some kids uncomfortable. (As well as grownups who are reading aloud without pre-reading!)
To whom would you recommend this book? Young readers of series like Animal Ark or Puppy Place who are looking for an upgrade should take a look; fans of Dick King-Smith and James Herriot will also feel comfortable in this new set.
Who should buy this book? Public and elementary school libraries
Where would you shelve it? Fiction
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? no
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Leigh King, Lincoln St. Elementary School, Northborough, Mass.
Date of review: 5/4/2020