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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pig Kahuna, written and illustrated by Jennifer Sattler. Bloomsbury, Penguin. 2011. $18.50 ages 3 and up

"Of course surfing on it
was out of the question
because of the lurking,
murky ickiness factor
of the water."

Dink is definitely the baby of this brother duo; you can tell by the diaper he wears to the beach. The brothers are keen beachcombers, so long as they don't have to go near the water. They are happy to wait for the water to spill its treasure ashore. Their days are filled with delight as they gather what the 'lurking, murky ickiness' has to offer.

They collect seaweed, pebbles, shells. Then, one day, they discover untold wealth:

"They waited fifteen whole minutes, but nobody came to claim the surfboard. So they decided to make it the star of their collection."

They couldn't possibly surf given the 'lurking, murky ickiness' but they could certainly find other wonderful uses for it. They called it Dave. After some time together, Dink becomes convinced that Dave is missing the ocean; so, he sets him free. As Fergus returns from ice-cream cone buying, he is aghast to see what his brother has done. Instinctively he dives into the water to save Dave, forgetting his fear. Lo and behold, he surfs! Wow! What will he do now?

Did you know you were looking for a perfect book to take to the beach for your kids this summer? Well, this would be a great start. The playful illustrations have a unique charm, offering up two very expressive and endearing pigs with much on their minds. It's a hoot to watch as they haul Dave ashore and then use him for imaginative adventure! The  textured backgrounds invite close investigation and an invitation to 'touch'.  The warmth of the colors and the completely guileless characters will have readers returning to experience the fun time and again.

While the message is clearly about overcoming fear, it does nothing to overwhelm the strength of these two lovable and expressive characters. They remain the focus throughout this timely tale, and should be invited along as vacations begin and a trip to the beach is a distinct possibility.

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