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The Pig War: How a Porcine Tragedy Taught England and America to Share (Hardcover)
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• A NCSS/CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Book
Here is a true story of how the great nations of America and England almost went to war in 1859 over a pig--but learned to share instead.
In 1859, the British and Americans coexist on the small island of San Juan, located off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. They are on fairly good terms--until one fateful morning when an innocent hog owned by a British man has the misfortune to eat some potatoes on an American farmer's land. In a moment of rash anger, Lyman Cutlar shoots Charles Griffin's pig, inadvertently almost bringing the two nations to war. Tensions flare, armies gather, cannons are rolled out . . . all because of a pig! Emma Bland Smith's humorous text and Alison Jay's folksy illustrations combine in this whimsical nonfiction picture book that models the principles of peaceful conflict resolution.
About the Author
Emma Bland Smith is a children's librarian and writer. Her first picture book, Journey, won Bank Street College's Cook Prize and Northland College's SONWA award.
Alison Jay is a graduate of the London College of Printing and is the acclaimed illustrator of many picture books, including Calkins Creek's A Lady Has the Floor. Her signature style is created using alkyd paint on thick cartridge paper, with a crackle varnish, giving an aged effect.
★ "Two wars have been fought with England on American soil, and now in 1859, on the Northwest Coast island of San Juan, war number three is about to erupt [over a pig]. Smith deftly captures the retrospective absurdity of this historical incident with deadpan narration that will have young audiences slapping their foreheads in mock dismay over the childish behavior of hotheaded adults. Jay adds absurdity of her own in her visual parody of nineteenth-century art—portly, self-important men straining at their buttons, rendered in the dusty hues and crackled surfaces of naïve folk art and portraiture." —The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review
★ "Jay’s crackled, primitivist illustrations of cannons and distant figures in antique dress and uniforms add a proper sense of period to Smith’s brisk account of the historical episode, which the author presents as a timely case study in how countries with differences can find peaceable alternatives to armed conflict." —Booklist, starred review
★ "History has never been as much fun as you’ll find it represented in this cute picture book! The illustrations are very compelling and practically beg the reader to turn the page to see what comes next. This would be an excellent book to share with young or even older children when discussing this aspect of American history. Elementary libraries should definitely include this book in their collections." —School Library Connection, starred review
"This is a true tale about two mighty nations, an ill-fated pig, and a most unusual war. It is also a story about sharing.' That opening, in black, sans-serif lettering, is followed by...a jaunty, lighthearted tone that proceeds throughout the text. Colorful, stylized art against apparently distressed surfaces is an impeccable complement. Weirdly fascinating." —Kirkus Reviews
"Smith’s narrative dives into a strange and humorous slice of history that nearly started another war between the two countries. This porcine altercation is detailed with lofty humor that makes for an intriguing and endearing read. Jay’s distinctive illustrations, rendered in alkyd paint with crackle glaze varnish, lend an old-timey feel and playful whimsy that matches the tone of the text. The book’s humor and whimsy provide an interesting narrative nonfiction read for elementary classrooms." —School Library Journal
"(A) funny explanation of a little-known event in American history... Alison Jay (A Lady Has the Floor) uses alkyd paint on paper with a crackle glaze varnish to give each illustration an old-timey feel; her colorful, folk-art style brings to life the various (often hot-headed) figures in the story. Bland Smith (Journey) delicately balances the absurd humor of the situation with the seriousness of the potential for yet another British-American war... an entertaining read and useful resource for young historians." -- Shelf Awareness