Monday, February 6, 2017

MMGM: Wishes, Kisses, and Pigs

Today's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday pick

Wishes, Kisses, and Pigs, by Betsy Gould Hearne
Wishes, Kisses, and Pigs
Written by Betsy Gould Hearne
Cover illustration by Trina Schart Hyman

Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2001
Ages 8-12, Grades 3-7
133 pages, 23400 words, 690L

Magical realism

       "I know what you're doing," said Willie.
       "No, you don't," said Louise.
       "Yes, I do. You're wishing on a star."
       "No, I'm not. The sun's just going down—look, it's red as fire."
       "Red as a rotten tomato," said Willie. "SPLAT goes the tomato. SQUOOSH, the sky's all mushy." Willie pulled one of his sister's pigtails.
       "Stop it, Willie."
       "SPLISH, here comes the first star," said Willie. "PLOP, here comes Louise. Oh, please, says Louise, I wish for a kiss." Willie pulled Louise's other pigtail, and jerked away.
       "I do not, Willie, and that's disgusting. And you don't even know how to make a wish, anyway."
       "Neither do you."
       "Yes, I do," said Louise. "Star light, star bright, first star I've seen tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight."
       Willie's blond hair glowed white in the evening light. He was chewing on a sassafras twig. Willie was a hefty boy, always chewing on something. "Sunsets are boring," he said, "and so are you," I'm going to feed the pigs." He turned his back on her and walked away.
       Louise felt a dark rage rising. "You ARE a pig."
       Her voice had surprising power, but Willie didn't answer. He had already disappeared in the trees. The wind blew. The leaves whispered. The owl that haunted their hills called whoo.

Even though her Papa left seven years ago, Louise and her Mama and brother, Willie do all right, until the night Willie disappears. Or does he? A stray pig turns up that same evening. When Louise thinks she may have wished disaster on her family, she tries to undo the spell and lands her family in further trouble. Add rival suitors, a stuck-up neighbor, a passel of pigs, and a wishing star, and you have a recipe for comedic chaos.

Wishes, Kisses, and Pigs is a quick read, made more so by the author's style. She keeps you turning pages with her domino events and unexpected twists. Heavy on dialogue, peopled with caricatures, entwined with elements of classic fairy tales, this story is the perfect remedy for a rain day. I think it would make a superb read-aloud in the classroom.

 1.  For more books with just a touch of wishing magic, check my MMGM review of the Savvy series, by Ingrid Law, or peruse the wealth of suggestions from other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday reviewers:

When the Butterflies Came,
by Kimberly Griffiths Little
Cover by Erin McGuire
Reviewed by Lucy
A Snicker of Magic, by Natalie Lloyd,
Cover by Gilbert Ford,
Reviewed by Michelle

Wishing Day,
by Lauren Myracle,
Cover by Julie McLaughlin,
Reviewed by Tara
Genuine Sweet, by Faith Harkey,
Cover by Brandon Dorman,
Reviewed by Jess

Sorry these look so girly. I think Wishes, Kisses, and Pigs could easily be enjoyed by all types of  readers. Anyone have a suggestion for this kind of book with a male protagonist?

Lucky Strike
Thanks, to Greg Partridge of Always in the Middle for suggesting Lucky Strike, by Bobbie Pyron, cover by Ellen Duda.

2. Betsy Gould Hearne is an expert in the field of children's literature who has written extensively about fairy tales, effects of kidlit on the reader, and social issues in children's books. I have several of her other books. You can find a list of her Middle Grade, early readers, and non-fiction titles on Goodreads. You can also find access to some of her lectures on IDEALS, the University of Illinois online learning center.

Have you reviewed a Marvelous Middle Grade Book along this theme? Please leave the link in the comments below. Thanks!

Check out all the Marvelous Middle Grade Monday recommendations for February 6, 2017.

MMGM started way back in 2010 by Shannon Messenger, author of Keeper of Lost Cities. Each week, participating bloggers review our favorite books for ages 8-12. Why not join us?


  1. Excellent review. Thanks for the opening as it really gave me a sense of the story. I really enjoy magical realism. Can't believe it was first published in 2001. Think I'd enjoy this read.

    1. Thanks. When I first read it, I hadn't seen any blurbs, so the magic caught me by surprise. Just goes to show you can find amazing books even when you're not paying attention.

  2. This book sounds really interesting! Thanks for the review!

    1. Thank you. It's been years since I first read this, and I liked it better the second time around. I hope you like it, too.

  3. I missed this one when it came out. Thanks for filling me in on a book I should read. LUCKY STRIKE by Bobbie Pyron comes to mind as a magical story with a male protagonist.

    1. Excellent suggestion. Thanks. We can always count on you for great MG.

  4. I don't remember hearing of this one. Sounds like a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. I bought it through a Scholastic Bookfair flyer. Remember those? I always raid my kids' backpacks looking for fun new books.


Thank-you for taking time to share your thoughts!