Written and Illustrated by James Marshall
Houghton Mifflin, 1973
Emily Pig was upset. She was gaining weight and she didn’t know why.
The plot in a nutshell: A pig’s attempt at exercise doesn’t work out as planned.
Emily thinks exercise might help prevent her from gaining more weight and her friend, Eugene, suggests a nice long walk with him. She enjoys the walk, but it makes her hungry, so they stop for a sandwich. As they continue to walk, Emily stops for corn-on-the-cob, tea and scones, eskimo pie, Girl Scout cookies and ice cream. Then she stops by the supermarket and has some pizza samples. While enjoying some soda and a candy apple in the park, Emily’s stomach starts to hurt. Eugene takes her home and comes to visit her the next day. He asks what was wrong and she tells him she thinks it was all that walking. So he advises her stay in bed and eat lots of good food.
Bookshelf favorite James Marshall puts his sly sense of humor on center stage in this delightfully funny book. As you can plainly see from the story, Mr. Marshall is respecting his audience (as he always does) enough to know that most kids will get the joke here and that not even the laziest kid is likely to see this silly story as proof that junk food is good and exercise is bad. There’s even a way to spin this story into a body positivity and self-acceptance message when you consider that Eugene simply supported Emily’s choices, allowing her to be who she already is and not try to fight her nature. The book is set up with text on the left page and illustrations on the right page throughout. Emily and Eugene are drawn so lovably and the world around them is expressed in mostly blue, green and pink. I thought this book was a lot of fun (and it’s best not to read when you’re hungry).
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that it takes big changes to lose weight and if you’re not ready to make those changes, it’s not the right time.