Title: Piglet and Granny
Author: Margaret Wild
Illustrator: Stephen Michael King
MARGARET WILD is a fulltime writer of books for children and young adults. She has written more than 40 books for children. Her books are published around the world and have won numerous awards. Margaret’s well-loved picture books include The Midnight Gang (illustrated by Anne James), Chatterbox (illustrated by Deborah Niland), Baby Bird’s Blankie (illustrated by Gwyn Perkins), and Piglet and Mama and Piglet and Papa, (illustrated by Stepen Michael King). Here is what Margaret says about writing Piglet and Granny.
Although I was very fond of (Piglet), especially as Stephen’s illustrations are so endearing and lovable, I hadn’t planned to write a third story. Sequels can be problematic. Inevitably, the new story is compared to earlier ones, and you have to make sure it is strong enough in its own right to be published. However, at a party a friend and I swapped “grandmother” stories and I decided to write Piglet and Granny for her and me and all other grandmothers. Often the simpler the story, the more difficult it is to write. And so it was with this one. But after several false starts, Piglet was on her way… In recent years I’ve done many of the things with my granddaughter that the characters do in the story – I’ve wobbled along walls, made cubby houses, swung on gates and slid down high slippery dips – though I draw the line at mud slides! One of the great pleasures of being a grandmother is the opportunity to spend time with a young child and to see the world afresh through their eyes.
STEPHEN MICHAEL KING grew up in suburban Sydney where his imagination and creativity were nurtured. He wrote stories, dreamed of illustrating a book and of one day working with Walt Disney Studios – which he eventually did. When Stephen was nine, he went partially deaf but his hearing loss was unnoticed for a number of years. During this time he began to immerse himself in art where he could communicate without words. Now his work and relaxation revolve around drawing. Several of Stephen’s
books have received awards, including his first picture book, The Man Who Loved Boxes, which won the Family Therapy Association Award and was short-listed for the Crichton Award in 1996. Three of
Stephen’s books have been shortlisted in 2009 in the Children's Book Council of Australia Awards:
Early Childhood category – Leaf, and Applesauce and the Christmas Miracle (written by Glenda Millard); Younger Readers category - Perry Angel’s Suitcase (written by Glenda Millard). Stephen writes:
I love book illustrating. I can be passionate, joyous, stressed and flummoxed during the process of creating a book. From conception to publication, the process can take a year or two. I drive myself crazy just as much as the people around me. It's a mad process . . . keeping an idea in your head for months on end . . . continually flipping it and twisting it into new places
SYNOPSIS Piglet and Granny is the story of a day in the life of Piglet and her Granny. It is a simple warm story about their special relationship. While Piglet is waiting for Granny she shows Cow, Horse, Duck and Sheep the games she and Granny play together – balancing on walls, doing somersaults, chasing butterflies and playing hide and seek. When Granny is late turning up the others reassure Piglet that she will come soon. When Granny does finally arrive she tells Piglet why she is late – she has been making a surprise - a fantastic new game to play together!
Granny and Piglet is a simple story but as Margaret Wild says, “Often the simpler the story, the more difficult it is to write”. The way the story is written and structured is perfect for preschool children and beginning readers. Children will be immediately drawn into the story through the familiarity and warmth of the theme: the special relationship between a grandchild and a grandparent. Various writing strategies are used throughout the book to help children understand and respond to the story.
• Introducing the characters, creating a setting, and establishing a problem to be overcome. The two main characters and the problem are introduced in the first three pages. Piglet loved it when Granny came to visit for a day. … One day Piglet waited by the gate for Granny to arrive. She waited and waited. But Granny didn’t come.
• Cumulative plot and repetition of scenes: The story has a sequential, repetitive pattern that marks the passing of time and creates anticipation. The first part of the story is a series of scenes made up of similar actions and language patterns. Piglet plays games while she’s waiting for Granny. Granny doesn’t come. Cow, Horse, Duck and Sheep watch her, praise her, and reassure her that Granny will come soon. For example: “What good balancing!” said Cow. … “My granny taught me,” said Piglet. “I’m waiting for her to visit.” “I’m sure she’ll be along soon,” said Cow.
• Pacing: the story is crafted to encourage the reader to turn each page to find out what happens or what will be said. The language used, and the placement of the words on the page also determines how the story moves forward. Eg. “I’ve been waiting and waiting and waiting!” The repetition of the word ‘waiting’, and the way the words are placed - drifting down the page, creates a pause and marks a turning point in the story. In the next scene Piglet is back at the gate, playing the universal waiting game – swinging on the gate. And then, of course, Granny arrives – with a surprise!
• Language: the use of refrains, dialogue, and musical, rhythmic language invites joining in, and shared reading. Examples: …Back and forth. Back and forth. Squeak. Squeak. Squeak; …Are we going to look for tadpoles; …Granny was soft and squishy, she was as lively as a family of leaping frogs; …Piglet wobbled along the wall; …Piglet and Granny slid and swooshed again an again and again …and again.
• A satisfying ending: The story has a warm, satisfying ending. When Granny finally arrives she has a surprise for Piglet – a new game …A slippery, slithery mudslide! And hand-in-hand they go “for one last SPLASHY slide!”
Stephen Michael King used watercolour and black ink for the illustrations in this book. The illustrations enrich the story of Piglet and Granny. As with the words, the layout of the illustrations also helps to pace the story. Each of the first three pages portrays a single incident, the characters are introduced, their relationship is established, and a situation is introduced - Piglet and Granny together, Piglet and Granny playing, and Piglet waiting. The next seven double page spreads show Piglet practising her games and talking with the other farm animals – Cow, Horse, Duck and Sheep. Then a break to this pattern is introduced using two single pages – firstly, waiting and waiting and waiting; and then a reassuring cuddle for Piglet from Sheep. Single page incidents are then used to show Piglet and Granny getting together at last until there is an exuberant double page picture of them going down the slippery, slithery mudslide! The book ends with pictures on three single pages, mirroring the start. Stephen has created a farmyard of friendly, generous characters. The easy black ink lines combined with the soft tones of the watercolour
beautifully capture the mood of the story through the body language and facial expressions of the characters. Note how, after each game, Piglet’s body slumps slightly and her head droops – Granny is
taking too long; how after a reassuring cuddle from Sheep, Piglet gently swings back and forth on the gate: and how bristling and exuberant becomes when Granny finally arrives.
DISCUSSION POINTS AND ACTIVITIES
• Before reading the story share the book together. Help children to know what to look for in the story. Take time to look at each page, drawing attention to how the illustrations and the text work together. For instance, the words on the first page say: Piglet loved it when Granny came to visit for the day. Look at the picture of Piglet and Granny. What are Piglet and Granny doing? How does the picture show how they feel?
• Look at the picture of Piglet waiting at the gate. She waited and waited. But Granny didn’t come. What is Piglet is thinking about? How does she feel? How does the picture show this? Plant the idea that there is a reason Granny hasn’t come. I wonder where Granny is?
• Talk about what piglet does while she is waiting. Point out the different games Piglet is playing – balancing, chasey, somersaults, hidey. Ask questions: Do you play these games with your Granny? Do you think she can do somersaults?
• Talk about Cow, Horse, Duck and Sheep all say the same thing in slightly different ways.
• Invite children to join in with phrases as they become familiar by pausing, asking questions: I’m sure she won’t be too long,” said Horse. Did Granny come? No, look, the words say, But Granny didn’t come. Once the children are familiar with the pattern they can be prompted with just a word “But…”Use the same approach with other refrains in the book.
• Read the story whole story expressively, capturing the warmth of the relationships, the sense of time passing slowly, the anticipation of Granny’s arrival, and the excitement and togetherness of the last SPLASHY slide.
• Talk about and write stories about what you do with your own grandmothers. These can be written by the children, or dictated by them to be written down by adults.
• Using black ink line and watercolour draw pictures to go with the stories. Read these together. They can be turned into plays to be acted by the children.
• Paint pictures of your own grandmothers or of the animals from the story - set up a portrait gallery.
• Ask your grandmothers to tell you a story about when they were little. Ask them to write down the story to be shared with everyone in a “My Granny” book.
• Invite your grandmothers (and grandfathers) to visit to view the portrait gallery, tell their stories, and play balancing, chasey, somersaults, and hidey.
• Talk about how grandmothers are different – young, old, white hair, coloured hair, different clothes.
• Talking about grandparents may lead to talk about death – be prepared for this. Talk about how there are many reasons children don’t see their grandparents – they may live far away, or they may even have died.
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