Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald & Anne MacDonald Canham, Illustrated by Anne Boiger

Sad but true, sequels to beloved stories, written or finished by someone else, are rarely good. Of course, there are exceptions. Ruth Plumly Thompson, a truly Ozzy writer, Brad Strickland, finishing and continuing John Bellairs work....

Unfortunately, this is not one of those exceptions. Anne Canham says she found an unpublished Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle story plus notes for more among her mother's possessions after she died. Some of the stories have authentic elements, but for the most part I was disappointed. "The Just-One-More-TV-Show Cure" is probably the unpublished story. The description of the shows indicates an older generation of television shows and the cure is vintage Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle - give them what they want until they're sick of it (not a cure I ever thought practical - Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle never met MY siblings). "The Won't-Brush-Teeth Cure" has good details - I love the description of Betsy's mossy teeth, but the story ends rather abruptly. The abrupt ending is characteristic of most of the stories here, possibly Ms. Canham ran out of ideas to fully complete the stories?

But the most problematic is the child's reaction at the end of several of the stories. They're positively didactic "I'm sorry I've been such a picky eater. From now on, I'll eat whatever you and Mom want." "I can't find a thing and I'm tired of living in this big mess and sleeping on the floor." These sound like what parents would like their children to say - or what an adult would say. In the original Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle stories, the children gradually change and often either don't realize their behavior has been modified or think back on their unsocial behavior as something they did when they were much younger.

The final story is a party extravaganza, and tries vainly to imitate the treasure hunt in Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic. Unfortunately, the parents' lavish gifts are unbelievable and the treasure - seeds and a tree house - is just boring. I prefer to think of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle out on her farm in some nearby but unreachable town, still passing out cures to unsuspecting children.

Verdict: Replace your worn out Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books as needed and pass by this title. It's really unnecessary.

ISBN: 978-0060728120; Published September 2007 by HarperCollins; Borrowed from the library; Purchased for the library (but not by me!)

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