Welcome back to Middle Grade Monday! This week I am reviewing The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City, by Jodi Kendall. Thank you to @KidLitExchange for a copy of this book to review. All opinions are my own.
Summary from Goodreads:
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.
This modern-day homage to Charlotte’s Web is a heartwarming tale of family, belonging, and growing bigger when you’ve always felt small—perfect for fans of Katherine Applegate and Cammie McGovern.
This feel-good novel is a story about family, fitting in, and growing up. There is a touch of an homage to Charlotte’s Web, but it isn’t until the final third of the book, so I wouldn’t try to sell it to a kid on that fact.
Josie Shilling has a big family and often feels invisible. Her biggest passion is gymnastics, but she is growing faster than the other girls and is thrown off by her own height. When her brother, Tom, brings home a pig on Thanksgiving Day, Josie winds up feeling attached to it and convinces her parents to let her keep it until New Years. They think she is going to use the time to find a new owner for the big, but she plans to use the time to convince them to let her keep Hamlet forever.
The bigger part of the story is that in a strange way, Hamlet helps Josie see that her family is always supporting her, just in different ways. They notice her, even if they don’t always make her feel that way. She also learns that gymnastics shouldn’t be her entire life, that there is more out there, including a strong bond with animals. I especially liked the relationship between Josie and their neighbor, Mrs. Taglioni. When Josie sees that she is more than just a mean neighbor who wants the kids to stay quiet, she gets a better view that we all are more than what we seem on the outside and that it takes time to get past the outer shell.
The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City is perfect middle grade material. Josie has to confront anxiety, issues of competitive sports, sibling rivalry, and even first crushes. The story is told with warmth and kindness as we watch Josie grow from her experiences. Appropriate for grades 3-7.