Captain Small Pig


Written by Martin Waddell, Illustrated by Susan Varley

Peachtree Publishers, 2009

One day Old Goat and Turkey took Small Pig down to Blue Lake.  They found a little red boat.

The plot in a nutshell:  Small Pig and his friends go rowing on the lake and, despite a few mishaps, have a very nice time.

Here’s another book that jumped off the shelf because of its artwork.  Author Martin Waddell tells a simple story of friendship in this book.  Small Pig is every enthusiastic child, wanting to try new things, enjoying every moment of it and crashing at the end of his fun and busy day.  Turkey is the pessimist of the group, casting his doubts across the water.  Fortunately, Old Goat is there to keep the group afloat emotionally, offering encouragement and positivity along the way.

Sit down, you're rocking the boat!

Sit down, you’re rocking the boat!

The artwork (that drew me in from the beginning) features pen and ink drawings from Susan Varley, with colors that reflect the mood of each picture.  I love the little details in the pictures, like the stripes on the pillows and Old Goat’s pince-nez glasses.  Mr. Waddell was awarded the Hans Christian Anderson Award in 2004 for his lasting contribution to children’s literature.

The relationship between these three may be open to interpretation, if you’re inclined to think beyond what we see.  Are Old Goat and Turkey a same sex couple who are raising Small Pig?  Are they all just friends, and if so, what’s the story behind Small Pig having friends so much older than himself?  Is this whole story an allegory, with the three ‘friends’ being three parts of one greater whole (ie, id, ego & superego)?  However you look at it, it’s a very charming story of three characters who enjoy being together.  And Small Pig’s enthusiastic cry of, “I’m Captain Commander!” has become my go-to exclamation when I’m happily enjoying something new.

And what did we learn?  What I take away from this book is that some friends can be supportive and some friends can be challenging, but they can all still be your friends.


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