Alliteration can be demanding; we’ve all learned that lesson by repeating a variety of phrases “five times fast.” Whether it’s “She sells seashells,” or Peter Piper picking a peck of pickled pumpkins (what kind of freak pickles pumpkins, anyway?), alliterative rhymes haunt our childhood. Alliteration is popular in character names as well; two of my favorites are Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck. Authors like using alliterative names for people and places, and (al)literally thousands of them can be found in literature.
Pork Chop, author David Edminister’s entry into juvenile fiction, is a story filled with alliteration. The author is thanked for not overdoing it — too much alliteration and we find ourselves stumbling over passages rather than enjoying the intellectual challenge they offer. There is more wordplay at work Pork Chop, as well, including puns and plays on words.
The story itself is simple; Porter, a little pig, becomes an adolescent pig, but as he grows up his favorite story (The Three Little Pigs) becomes the stuff of nightmares. Whereas he once reveled in his mother’s repeated readings of this book (her favorite is Pygmalion), later in life it became scary food for thought. What would he do if a big, bad wolf actually did come to his door and try to eat him and his mom?
Most children can identify with Porter’s fears. As they become more self-sufficient and responsible, they worry whether they can handle things that may come up. Can they live up to everyone’s expectations and — more importantly — their own?
Porter and his mother have a few amusing exchanges; one occurs when mom tells him he shouldn’t be pigging out and gaining weight because it’s not healthy. Porter complains that all his friends are porky, and their parents don’t complain, to which mom replies, “Porter, if all your friends rooted around in the mud, would you do it, too?”
Porter decides it would be in his best interest to be trim and healthy so that if the wolf ever does appear at the door, he’ll be able to take him on. He enrolls in a porcine martial arts academy and quickly gains skills and confidence.
The night before Porter is to try out for his black belt, he faces a true test of his abilities. When the wolf is attempting to break into the home of an elderly neighbor will Porter be able to come to her rescue? What do you think?
Pork Chop fosters moral concepts and encourages readers to be the very best they can be. Within its pages, its hero suffers self-doubts, devises a method to be better able to achieve his goals, and reaps the rewards of his efforts. Yes, it’s a simple story, but it deals with complex topics.
Illustrations by Patty Edminister are reminiscent of the crayon and colored pencil work young artists produce. Their bright colors and playful attitude enhance David Edminister’s words.
Bottom Line: Would I buy Pork Chop? Yes, especially for children who are taking martial arts classes or those who struggle with confidence issues.Powered by Sidelines