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The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City

Last updated Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Author: Jodi Kendall
Illustrator: Pascal Campion
Date of Publication: 2017
ISBN: 0062484532
Grade Level: 5th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Dec. 2018

Synopsis: A little pig in a big city leads to lots of trouble! Josie Shilling’s family is too big, their cramped city house is too small, and she feels like no one’s ever on her side. Then, on Thanksgiving Day, her older brother, Tom, brings home a pink, squirmy bundle wrapped in an old football jersey—a piglet he rescued from a nearby farm. Her name is Hamlet. The minute Josie holds Hamlet, she feels an instant connection. But there’s no room for Hamlet in the crowded Shilling household. And whoever heard of keeping a pig in the city? So it’s up to Josie to find her a forever home.

Note to readers:
•  The story is inspired by the Author's own childhood memories: "I loved a pig once. A typical farm breed, she was pink with grey spots and had fine, white hairs all over her body. The runt of a litter, my brother had saved her life, sneaking her into his college dorm room. Days later he brought her home, to the outskirts of a big, midwestern city, where I lived with my parents and siblings.The pig moved into our house. She learned to use the litter box. She gained a pound a day.

This was twenty-five years ago. Specifics from that time now blur together, a flash-pan of family memories and grainy old photographs: giving the pig bubble baths, her sleeping in front of the heating vent, jelly dripping from her snout. But yet… I remember clearly how it felt to love her.This brief, but powerful, childhood experience and two of my favorite books, Charlotte’s Web and The Penderwicks, inspired the idea for my debut middle grade novel, The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City."

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Do you think pigs live in cities or only in the country/on a farm?
•  What do you think the pig does in the city?
•  What do you see when you look outside your window at home?


•  Superstition - a belief that certain events or things will bring good or bad luck
•  Instinct - a natural desire or tendency that makes you want to act in a particular way
•  Burrow - a natural desire or tendency that makes you want to act in a particular way
•  Calloused - having hard and thick skin
•  Practical - reasonable to do or use
•  Catchphrase - a word or phrase that is easy to remember and is commonly used to represent or describe a person, group, idea, etc

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Would you want a pig as a pet?
•  Do you play any sports?
•  What do you think pigs eat?
•  Can you come up with reasons to keep Hamlet?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a pig out of construction paper. Include the football jersey!
•  Make the family's cramped city house out of paper bags or construction paper.
•  Make a holiday card for one of your family members.
•  Check our craft ideas on Pinterest!

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!