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The Old Woman and Her Pig: An Appalachian Folktale Hardcover – January 2, 2007
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From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2—This adaptation lacks the cleverness of the traditional British tale, the humor of Paul Galdone's 1960 version, and the fun of Eric Kimmel's 1992 offering. Old Woman goes "Jig jog jig jog jiggety-jig!" to town to buy a fat pig after Little Boy finds a penny. (Will anyone believe that she can buy a pig for a penny?) On the way back, the creature won't cross the bridge, so the old woman asks a dog to bark at the pig, a rat to nip the dog, and, finally, a cat to worry the rat. When the cat agrees to help, the other animals do their thing, and they all end up across the bridge and home with the little boy in time to dance a jig by nightfall. MacDonald has cut out some of the action of the original and watered down the story so that the tale seems rather pointless. There is a faint attempt to add some rhythm through the repetition of several lines, but the pace is uneven and sounds forced. Kanzler's animals are so friendly looking that one wonders why they refused to do the old woman's bidding in the first place.—Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT
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About the Author
Margaret Read MacDonald is a storyteller, author, folklorist, and children's librarian, whom School Library Journal has called "a grand dame of storytelling." Ms. MacDonald is the author of numerous books, including pickin' peas, illustrated by Pat Cummings, and the award-winning book The Parents' Guide to Storytelling. She lives in Kirkland, Washington.
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Storyteller and folklore expert MacDonald offers a bright new interpretation of this old favorite Appalachian story. Her sprightly, rhythmic text retains what's best about the traditional tale while adding original elements to please a contemporary audience.
You know the plot already: the old woman goes to market and buys a fine pig, but heading home, she can't get piggie to cross the stile (updated to a wooden bridge over a river in this version). She begs for help from passers-by and even natural elements in a cumulative plea that grows progressively more outlandish.
MacDonald's jaunty retelling offers a pair of contrasting refrains children will quickly learn to chant. At the outset, the old woman's happy song exults, "Goin' to town, gonna buy a little pig. Jig jog jig jog jiggety-jig!" Caught on the wrong side of the river, the hapless woman sadly sings to herself, "I can't get to my little boy tonight. It's almost dark . . . but the moon does shine." For storytellers who'd like to sing the refrains, the songs are included in an author's note at the end of the book.
Folksy, colorful paintings exaggerate the story's humor and enhance the emotions in the expressions of each character. Particularly pleasing is the stubborn pig's smug smile on the page where rat and dog defy the homeward-bound woman.
New to the story is a charming cat who resolves the impass at the bridge through cooperation rather than the violence of the original. This cheerful alteration is so smoothly integrated into the narrative that children unfamiliar with the folktale will accept it as natural, and those who know the earlier version will find this ending even more satisfying.