Piggie Pie! by Margie Palatini, Illustrated by Howard Fine is a wonderful Halloween mentor text for teaching a variety of language and literacy skills. I'm taking a little poetic license with this book because it's not written in rhyme or as a narrative poem. But...it can be used to teach several literary devices so I'll rationalize it that way. The language is just soooo good. I highly, highly recommend it.
Summary: Gritch the Witch wants to make some piggie pie, but she doesn’t have any piggies. Problem! So…she looks in the phone book to find some piggies, and flies off on her broom to Old MacDonald’s farm. She's in for a big surprise when she gets to the farm and can’t find any piggies. (The pigs have cleverly disguised themselves as other animals and even as Old MacDonald himself). When the discouraged Gritch has a chance meeting with the BBWolf, she invites him “for lunch” instead.
This text is great for targeting grammar...especially adjectives and action verbs.
“Gritch the Witch woke up grouchy, grumpy and very hungry. Her belly grumbled for something delicious.”
Alliteration is used very effectively.
“How can I make Piggie Pie without even one puny pink pig?”
“What do you mean, no piggies, you lumpy-looking cow!” screamed Gritch. “I need eight plump piggies for Piggie Pie! Fork over the pork, you walking milk machine, or I’ll curdle your cream!”
3. Word Choice, Vocabulary, Voice, or Dialogue Writing:
Take your pick because the descriptive writing in this book is simply delicious. Gritch has a very big personality which comes through loud and clear.
“I just saw a passel of piggies down here not a minute ago! Hand over those hogs, you little quacker.”
I love the creative use of onomatopoeia in the dialogue. Again, so well done.
"Look, Shorty, I've been quack-quacked here, moo-mooed there, and clucked-clucked everywhere all over this farm."
5. Using picture clues to gain meaning:
Gritch doesn’t know where all the piggies have gone on Old Mac’s Farm and the dialogue never once gives it away. It's only Howard Fine's clever illustrations which show that the pigs are actually wearing animal disguises.
6. Compare and Contrast:
Because the characters are so well defined through both the dialogue and illustrations, this is a fun book to compare the similarities and contrast the differences between (Gritch and the Big Bad Wolf) and/or (Gritch and the Piggies).
7. Making Connections/Allusion:
There are so many opportunities to make meaningful text connections here because there are kid friendly references to:
A folk tale: "The Three Little Pigs"
A song: “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”
A movie: “The Wizard of Oz”
8. Making Inferences
The piggies may not have as much to say as Gritch, but kids can certainly infer character traits about these pigs. They are quite a clever bunch to avoid becoming Piggie Pie for Gritch's lunch!
When Gritch isn't able to find piggies, she does the next best thing. She invites the Big Bad Wolf “for lunch.” Each character envisions eating the other. As readers, we are left to infer what might actually happen next. Since there is a sequel to Piggie Pie, my money is on Gritch coming away as the victor. Plus, the Big Bad Wolf isn’t exactly in great physical shape to start with.
Great Teaching Bonuses from this talented Author/Illustrator team:
Piggie Pie Story Map
Piggie Pie Word Fun
There is also a Reader's Theater script available if you sign up and provide your email address on Margie Palatini's website. It's chock full of wonderful teaching resources.