The Pig War: How a Porcine Tragedy Taught England and America to Share by Emma Bland Smith, illustrated by Alison Jay


The Pig War: How a Porcine Tragedy Taught England and America to Share by Emma Bland Smith, illustrated by Alison Jay, Calkins Creek, 9781684371716, 2020

Format: Hardcover

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: Historical fiction

What did you like about the book? A little known conflict between England and America on a little island in the Pacific Northwest. It began with procrastination. The San Juan Islands were occupied by both the English and the Americans. No one had decided who the island actually belonged to. Then, one day an English pig was eating an American’s potatoes. Things did not end up well for the pig. The farmer, Lyman Cutlar, feels guilty and offers to pay the pig’s owner, Charles Griffin, for the pig. Griffin requests $100, a fortune, and half a years pay at that time. Cutlar, of course, refuses. Now, the military becomes involved. A perfect quote from the book- “Oh, dear. What started as a Pig Incident and turned into a Pig Argument was fast escalating into a Pig Situation.” It then became- The Pig War. Luckily, the easily angered top officials, were soon calmed by more rational minded military men. Not one shot was fired upon anyone (except the poor pig). They came to an agreement that they would share the island. In 1872 the island was finally given ownership to America. In 1966 congress created the San Juan Island National Historical Park. The illustrations are wonderfully folksy, detailing the little island and her occupants.  A great style choice for this particular book. There is an author’s note, additional resources, and a timeline at the end of the book.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book? Reluctant readers who may be interested in history. Adults who are interested in the relationship between England and America. It is a great starting point to learn about a little known conflict. Great for a school book report, history report, or lesson on sharing.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries, elementary and middle schools

Where would you shelve it? Although it is historical fiction, I would probably still put it in the non-fiction section.

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Lindsey Hughes, Marstons Mills Public Library, Marstons Mills, MA

Date of review: 4/13/21

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