Written by Kristi Yamaguchi, Illustrated by Tim Bowers
Poppy was a pig. A pot-bellied, waddling, toddling pig.
What made this author famous? Kristi Yamaguchi won the 1992 Olympic Gold Medal for figure skating and went on to skate professionally. She also serves as an Olympic commentator.
Poppy has dreams of becoming a star. She tries to become a ballerina, but finds that she has no talent for dance. But her family and friends encourage her to follow her dreams. Realizing that ballet is not her thing, she enters a singing competition but learns that singing isn’t her thing, either. She has equally poor results trying her hand at being a supermodel. Disappointed, she is about to give up when she thinks about those who encouraged her. She asks her best friend, Emma, to go to the park with her. With some encouragement from Emma, Poppy approaches the teacher and tells him she wants to be an ice skater. He has his doubts about a skating pig and her initial attempts are disappointing, but she never gives up and by the end of the night, she has mastered basic skating. She comes back the next day and, because she loves it, she works hard and learns to do it well, gaining lots of attention for her skill. At the end of the book, her dreams lead her to an airfield, where she aims to be the first sky-diving pig.
Author Kristi Yamaguchi is a big advocate for dreams and founded the Always Dream Foundation to promote childhood literacy and help disadvantaged children through a wide variety of programs and special events. A portion of the proceeds from this book go directly to the foundation and the book’s theme underscores much of what the foundation represents, encouraging a little one who struggles to find a foothold in her dreams. Poppy’s dreams are very traditional girl dreams (up until the end, when she branches out to sky diving), so if you are avoiding books with gender stereotypes, you may want to look elsewhere. But what really resonated with me in this book is the encouragement that Poppy got from her friends and family, which kept her focused on the positive and prevented her from giving up. I’m a big believer in encouragement, so I think this was the book’s most important aspect.
Tim Bowers draws Poppy as chunky and adorable, with an earnest and determined face that makes you root for her throughout the story. On the acknowledgements page, at the end of the book, we see a very confident Poppy suspended by a parachute, showing that she achieved that dream, too. For much of the book, we see what Poppy is thinking in thought bubbles over her head. We get to see her imaganing herself succeeding in each of her dreams and we see her remembering the supportive words of her friends and family each time she falters. I think everyone could accomplish so many great things if we all had a cheering section to keep us from losing hope. A sequel, It’s a Big World, Little Pig, follows Poppy’s journey to an international competition.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that when set your mind to something you love and are willing to work hard, no dream is too big to follow.