Friday, November 20, 2020


Kadohata, Cynthia. Saucy
September 29th 2020 Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
E ARC provided

Becca is a quadruplet, and she and her brothers Bailey, Jammer, and J.C. live with their parents and grandmother in a small Ohio town. Becca knows that funds are tight for the family, with Jammer's hockey and Bailey's cerebal palsy that has him in a wheelchair. The family is close, and takes nightly walks. On one of these, Becca finds a very small, very sick piglet in the bushes. Becca and her father rush the animal to the vet, who says the piglet is very sick but may survive. This isn't a pocket pig-- it is a breed that normally grows to 600 pounds. The mother reluctantly agrees to let Becca raise the pig until it gets to be 100 pounds, which she amends to 50 or 60 when Saucy, who is being kept in the kitchen, wreaks such havoc that even the kitchen cabinet doors are ripped off. Becca, who struggles to find friends at school, doesn't feel too bad about the expense to which Saucy is putting the family, because she figures she is the least expensive child, and she will work to pay her parents back. As Saucy grows, it becomes apparent that he will need to go to a pig sanctuary. Becca isn't happy with this, even after the family visits the sanctuary and can see how happy Saucy is there. After Saucy leaves the house, Becca becomes interested in the factory farm from which Saucy escaped, which is very near her home. She and her brothers go into the farm at night and steal nine piglets. They raise them at home, much to her mother's chagrin, and work to fight the factory farm. Becca manages to make a few friends from this endeavor, and is glad that they all want to help raise awareness of the pigs' plight. 
Strengths: It's always good to see close knit families, and also good to see books involving some aspects of farming. Pets, grandparents, and social activism are also popular topics. The addition of plentiful page illustrations are charming, since Saucy is a personable pig with lots of personality. We've had a couple of sets of quadruplets in our school system, so it was interesting to see how they interacted with their family. The Ohio setting made sense and didn't get any details wrong!
Weaknesses: This book seems more like an elementary level one, so I don't know that I will buy it.
What I really think: Kadohata's Checked was the perfect blend of sports, family problems, and pets, so I had high hopes for Saucy

This is where the review gets tricky. I was so irritated by Becca and her insistence on keeping Saucy even though it put her whole family in a precarious position that I hated the book. I was angry that the parents didn't put their feet down and say "enough". The portrayal of the pig sanctuary was very positive, and it bothered me that Becca didn't seem to have Saucy's best interest at heart. I could have recommended the book even with those reservations, but when Becca and her brothers steal pigs from the farm, that put this one over the edge for me. Even if the farm is not treating animals correctly, stealing pigs is not the way to change this. There were not enough consequences for Becca's actions, AND the animal shelter ended up being burdened with nine more animals! I eat very little meat, and know that some animal farms are not run with the best interest of the animals at heart, but I also realize that farming is very, very hard to make profitable. I would give this book one star based on how I felt about it, but will give it three (out of five on Goodreads) on its other merits. 
Ms. Yingling

1 comment:

  1. Whoa, I really enjoyed reading your review. Becca does sound very self-centered about keeping a pig that might be happier in a refuge, instead of creating chaos in their home. I was shocked to see that she and her siblings stole 9 piglets. Would rather have seen them get involved in activism to promote the welfare of how farm animals on some farms, rather than theft. Interesting book. Just may have to get a copy. I enjoyed "The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City," by Jodi Kendall. I'm always looking for stories like this for a nephew.