Written and Illustrated by Arthur Geisert
Houghton Mifflin, 2008
The plot in a nutshell: After playing in the mud, pigs have an innovative way to get clean
Pig play seems to be all about getting dirty, since the little pigs play in the water and then in the mud and then in a river of multi-colored paint. When they come out of the paint, their mothers herd them into a large contraption that shakes them back and forth in a pool of hot water, rinses them in a giant shower, dries them on a conveyer belt and leads them to a rotating clothesline where they are hung up (by their clothes) to dry. After they are all taken down from the clothesline, they go home, nice and clean.
Author/illustrator Arthur Geisert has published several book set in this same fictional town, entirely populated by pigs. Most of them feature complicated Rube Goldberg devices, such as the complex bathing system used in this book. The story of these pigs’ clean-up routine is presented without words, which isn’t a problem since the illustrations are detailed enough to walk you through the whole process by which these little pigs go from filthy to pristine.
The detail becomes even more impressive when you realize that Mr. Geisert uses copperplate etching as his artistic medium. I enjoyed looking at the illustration and trying to figure out the functionality of the cleaning machine, but didn’t find the book very interesting. Most of the fun of a Rube Goldberg machine is watching it in action, so I felt like I was missing out on something here. It would probably be more intriguing to anyone with an interest in (or better understanding of) engineering or machines in general. Otherwise, I’d give this one a miss.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that sometimes getting clean can be as complicated and layered as getting dirty.