Review of Saucy

by Cynthia Kadohata; illus. by Marianna Raskin
Intermediate    Dlouhy/Atheneum    304 pp.    g
9/20    978-1-4424-1278-1    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-4424-1280-4    $10.99

Eleven-and-a-half-year-old Becca, one of a set of quadruplets, discovers an ailing baby pig by the side of the road and brings it home. From this point on, life in her family goes from baseline busy to complete mayhem as Saucy destroys the kitchen cupboards, breaks the fridge, shreds the living-room curtains, uproots the garden, eats everything in sight, and, thriving under Becca’s loving care, gets bigger and bigger over the course of a summer. (As the prospect of a six-hundred-pound pet looms, there is really only one solution…the pig sanctuary.) But Becca’s experience has given her fresh confidence, which she uses to right a wrong she had done to her best friend and to organize the youth of her town to protest the practices of factory farming. The tale includes classic middle-grade tropes such as kindly, hapless parents with financial challenges; mean girls; a grumpy grandmother with a heart of gold; and a supporting cast of characters each identified by broadly defined qualities (of Becca’s three brothers, Jammer is a jock; Bailey, who has cerebral palsy, is sensitive and artistic; and K.C. has a scientific/philosophical mind). This funny, lively story, with scene-setting digital illustrations, also serves as a cautionary tale regarding oh-so-cute pigs as pets.

From the January/February 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Sarah Ellis
Sarah Ellis is a Vancouver-based writer and critic, recently retired from the faculty of The Vermont College of Fine Arts.

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