Book Review No. 10: Nanny Piggins and the Wicked Plan by R.A. Spratt (illustrated by Dan Santat)
Series: Nanny Piggins, no. 2
Genre: Children’s magical realism/(is there a genre name for British nanny books?)
Content for the Sensitive Reader: rare mild language, irreverence for authority figures, uncomfortable parent-child relationship, some mild cultural stereotypes. Safe for most young audiences.
Completion Date: December 29, 2019
BookmarkedOne Rating: 8/10
WARNING: This book will make you want cake. Not through glorious description as much as repetition. Being a pig, Nanny Piggins loves cake. If you are the type to get peckish while reading, do not read late at night when it is far too late to invade the kitchen and start hunting recipes for mud cake. Don’t do what I did. You’ve been warned.
So it’s actually been ages since I read The Adventures of Nanny Piggins. Ages as in I was actually part of the target age group back then. At the time, the book fit me perfectly. I absolutely loved Nanny Piggins and laughed until the tears came every chapter. I think I read it curled on a giant beanbag in just a few days.
Actually, it might have been just one day…
I was positively thrilled when I found out there was a sequel (surprise all! There aren’t two books, there are nine!). But it had already been a while between when I read the Adventures and found The Wicked Plan at an Epic Library sale.
In other words, a small mountain of books had shoved their way to the top of the stack.
Well, yesterday was the day.
I curled up with the book, refreshed my memory as to who everyone was, and plunged ahead.
You should know Nanny Piggins follows the format of most other nanny stories–you know, Mary Poppins, Nurse Matilda, Amelia Bedelia. It follows a simple, episodic format, each of the chapters like a short story in itself (good for bedtime stories, methinks, except for the cake cravings). The children get in trouble and Nanny Piggins has to find a way out. But there’s one exception.
She’s a pig.
And we love her for that.
But not just any pig. A terribly stylish, expert-baker, former circus runaway cannonball pig.
If that doesn’t make you want to read it alone I don’t know what will.
It also means that she’s usually the one getting the children into trouble before getting them out (i.e. burning a hole through the floor with acid, getting a bucket stuck on the youngest child’s head, sending everyone into a mud puddle, making a bet with an armadillo).
It’s glorious fun. Usually involving mud, cake, and terribly amusing flawed logic. Not necessarily in that order.
The Wicked Plan itself isn’t actually invented by Nanny Piggins, as I assumed it would be. Instead, the plot is hatched by the children’s rather cold father, Mr. Green. He wants to get married and be rid of Nanny Piggins.
Naturally, she has to thwart him. But Nanny Piggins and the children are easily distracted, so half the stories don’t have anything to do with Mr. Green at all. They’re off busily helping a circus fat lady gain weight after developing an affinity for jogging (my personal favorite story), having Nanny Piggins serve as school headmistress and court juror, and compete in the Westminster Nanny Show (because you can’t have a Nanny Piggins book without at least one rivalry story with the pristine Nanny Anne).
Not to mention that she fends off at least three marriage proposals herself (being such a stylish pig and fabulous baker, of course) and refuses several job opportunities because she’d much rather stay with Derrik, Samantha, and Michael.
Even though it takes a bit more to make me laugh these days, I did catch myself doing it a time or two, especially at one scholarly gentleman quite losing his heart over Nanny Piggins. It’s impossible not to. Even if you find the entire thing ridiculous, it’s quite a good romp.
I accidentally swallowed it whole. Almost in one sitting. I have no idea what time it was when I finally finished the book and went to bed.
Okay, I have an idea, but it’s better I don’t share it.
I think The Adventures of Nanny Piggins will still be my favorite of the two (pie-baking competition? And self-portrait entered to the art museum? That’s hard to beat). But it’s quite a charming little book. Certainly one I’d recommend if you know a young someone who needs a laugh.
Just make sure you have some cake on hand. Or someone willing to bake with you later. It’s much too sad to have cake alone.