Piggies in a Polka
Author: Kathi Appelt; Illustrator: Leuyen Pham
Pages: 40
Publisher/Date: Harcourt/2003
ISBN: 0152164839
Age Levels: 4-8

Book Review

From all across the holler,
from every nook and cranny,
all the piggies are arriving
for the yearly hootenanny.

Piggies in a Polka is a wonderfully rhythmic, rhyming read-aloud. On each double-page spread we see the pigs prancing, romping, dancing, stomping, singing, sighing (at the glorious voice of the "peachy-keen soprano") and having a rollicking good time.

Pham does an excellent job at capturing the pigs' merriment and high-spirited hoofing. Done in watercolor and colored pencil, the double-paged illustrations are filled with lots of action as well as humorous piggy poses and facial expressions. Smartly, Pham keeps the book from being overwhelmingly busy by limiting the inside scenes primarily to pinks, peaches, yellows, and oranges. The layout and judicious use of white space make the book a pleasure to read as well as look at.

When the book arrived here at Education Oasis all our teacher-reviewers loved it. The litmus test for us, however, is whether or not it works in the classroom. We took it into several classrooms to see how the prancing porkers fared. The students to whom we read it also loved it and demanded several re-readings. Thankfully, Appelt's text is great fun to read aloud. The rhymes roll off the tongue easily.

Don't miss this one!

Reviewed by the teachers at Education Oasis
©2003 Education Oasis http://www.educationoasis.com

About the Author

Kathi Appelt is the author of many acclaimed picture books, including Oh My Baby, Little One. She lives in College Station, Texas. Visit her website.

About the Illustrator

Leuyen Pham has illustrated several popular picture books. She lives in San Francisco, California. Ms. Pham graciously explained to us how she created the wonderful illustrations in this book.

"I'm a watercolorist, and for this book, I started the pieces as regular watercolors, flattening out the colors as much as possible to achieve that sort of cubic look. I took the image to about 90% finished, and then scanned the entire piece into the computer. At that point, I laid in things like the posters in the back wall and touched up the glow of the lights in Photoshop, an image adjusting program. These extra touches were mostly to keep a consistency in the lighting and to avoid having to painstakingly lay out type in the image. After, I printed out the entire image onto watercolor paper from my home printer, and then worked back on top of that image in colored pencil. This was the final piece that I sent off to my publishers. A little loopy, I know, but I'm really interested in seeing what the computer can do for image-making, while still retaining that finished, traditional look. The result is what you see—very traditional still, and hard to tell it was even touched up on the computer." Be sure to visit her website.