Friday, October 22, 2010

Pigs and Fairies

Spratt, R.A. The Adventures of Nanny Piggins.
Mr. Green needs a nanny for his three children because he is a very busy lawyer, and the children's mother perished in a boat accident. However, he doesn't want to pay a nanny or even pay to advertise for a nanny, so when he sticks a sign in the yard and Nanny Piggins shows up asking only ten cents an hour, he hires her on the spot. The children, who are usually well behaved anyway, are delighted. Nanny spends the money allotted for their school supplies and uniforms on a trip to the amusement park as well as some giant sized chocolate bars, she fends off the evil Nanny Allison, and she gets involved in a pie baking smack down with another nanny that ends with many, many pies being consumed. The children are happy, Mr. Green is happy because they don't disturb him, and Nanny Piggins is happy because she doesn't have to be shot out of a cannon. There are two more books out in Australia, but nothing in the US.
Strengths: Having read so many long and laborious fantasy books lately, I am always impressed with a book for which I can remember the plot and characters after I have read it. This is goofy, but well done, and I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. It reads like a more accessible Mary Poppins.
Weaknesses: The Pilkey Line. While this is fabulous for elementary students, it might be too young for middle school, although (oddly), yesterday for the first time I had a student ask for a book involving pigs. This would be perfect.

Blume, Lesley M.M. Modern Fairies, Dwarves, Goblins and Other Nasties: A Practical Guide.
This is a surprisingly dark compendium of stories about the creatures mentioned in the title. Set in New York City, this intersperses the stories with practical suggestions for how to deal with the variety of supernatural creatures. The illustrations are nicely creepy and add a lot to the book. There is a nice mixture of traditional lore (fairy circles, changelings, dwarves) with fun stories (I especially liked the one about the Algonquin Hotel) and updated "information" about gifts for moden fairies and the like.
Strengths: Engaging and original. The writing is facile and drew me along. The book is an attractive one.
Weaknesses: Again, audience. While this is a nice change from vampires, I haven't had any students show an interest in this particular set of supernatural creatures.


  1. My kids adored Nanny Piggins (I read it aloud to them, and I have to admit it was great fun for me, too). I'm afraid to tell them that there are more books out in Australia, actually--I can hear the clamoring already.

  2. I thought Nanny Piggins was a cross between Pilkey and Snicket - I couldn't finish it, drove me nuts. I don't see my Pilkey fans liking it, too twee. But maybe you have different Pilkey fans in mind.

    I thought Spiderwick fans might really go for Fairies - what do you think?