From the Publisher:
“First Jack and Ollie try the leafy branches. Then a giant kite. Idea after idea, invention after invention, boy and pig drag them all to the top of the highest hill. Then Ollie runs as hard as ever a pig could run, until his trotters lift from the ground and–Crash! In Sky Pig, Jan Coates weaves a story of sweetness and whimsy, ingenuity and empathy. Plasticine artist Suzanne Del Rizzo brings dimension and energy to the tale of a pig who wants–against all popular truisms–to fly. He may never reach the sky on homemade clockwork wings, but Ollie still dreams as hard as ever a pig can dream. And Jack, a true friend, realizes that just because a pig can’t fly in the ways they have tried doesn’t mean he can never soar. An uplifting picture book for anyone who has tried and tried again.”
A fun picture book to introduce the importance of following your dreams and not giving up when you encounter failure.
See here for a fantastic interview with illustrator Suzanne Del Rizzo and see images and a description of her creative process with mixed media.
The promotional copy I was given had the pages mixed up, which was very confusing to my almost-3-yo daughter and me as we began to read this story. Once we got the pages sorted out, it made a lot more sense! It was actually a great exercise in prediction and story sequence for my daughter, and we practiced reasoning skills as we figured out the correct order. A bonus lesson!
My daughter and I had a great discussion about the importance of perseverance and “keeping on trying” even when things are tough to do. This links very strongly to one of my key parenting goals of trying to instil strong problem-solving skills in my children. She could clearly identify that Ollie never gives up and that his generous and imaginative friend Jack supports Ollie in his efforts to try and fly. My daughter was fascinated with the mixed media illustrations. She expected to be able to touch them in 3-D and kept running her hands over the pages to feel their depth and was surprised when it was just flat 2-D. She held the book up to the light for a clearer view several times.
The beginning dialogue on the first two pages is a bit confusing. It seems to be missing something. We initially thought a page was missing. All becomes clear on the next few pages, but the beginning link to Ollie wanting to fly after watching things floating by is missing. My daughter asked me repeated questions about this. Repeated readings of the story will ease this, but for the first time, the flow is a bit jarring. Ollie can’t talk (which is par for the course with a pig), so creative interpretation from Jack is needed. Conveying this may be part of the initial confusion. In the end, however, this does not take away from the important message of the book and it is still a valuable title to have in your collection.
Why/How Use it with kids:
- discussions of empathy, friendship, perseverance, and patience. Ask questions such as “what is something that is hard for you to do? Why do you want to do it?” etc.
- create a design for a flying contraption for Ollie – and use craft supplies/found items to make it. Try to fly it!
- explore creating with clay or play dough or plasticine (like the illustrations) and other mixed media items.
- Discussion about the qualities of a true friend – what makes a friend?
About the Author & Illustrator:
Jan L. Coates lives in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada. She has been a teacher and an ESL instructor. She and her husband are the parents of two children.
Illustrator Suzanne Del Rizzo is a mom to four kids and lives in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. She creates dimensional illustrations using plasticine and sometimes polymer clay and mixed media. She left her job in scientific research to become an illustrator.