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A good-natured whimsy with minimal satirical bite, based on a medieval French tale, and starring a very clean pig. Plantagenet, orphaned offspring of wild boars, has been raised on the exemplary farm of Maister BrÉmand, whose daughter Adèle adores the sensitive porker. She's the only person who fondles him without feeling for cracklings--and in fact Plantagenet has learned to diet in order to avoid plump platterdom. As a result, this is a trim, swift-running pig, and his speediness becomes crucial in the major episode here: helping the beasts of the forest to escape an extermination march by the human lords and menials in the neighborhood, who intend to clear the forest of all the intimidating, sheep-nipping creatures they cannot control. Will the animals manage an exodus before the slaughter can be carried out? Working against them is a traitorous magpie hen, hatcher of virtuoso dirty work. In their favor are clever strategies executed by the great wolf Hurland, Plantagenet's cousin Grondin the boar, and other notables. But, above all, there is Plantagenet's dangerous diversionary run to save the day--which he manages only after conquering his fear of the forest's fierce, fanged nobles. And, as for Plantagenet's dreams of love (if only Adèle could be transformed by a fairy godmother into ""the beautiful sow she always was!""), there's a miraculous finale--in which Adèle begins to converse in animal speech. With no particular thrust and satire that nibbles rather than gores, this is the mildest of allegories, no match even for Steven Bauer's recent Satyrday (p. 1308). Still, the animals are pleasantly urbane, their dialogue is airily eclectic (""We boars are not born one at a time, not in single spies but in battalions. . . . Don't freak out for martyrdom""), and Plantagenet--thanks partly to the illustrations by Michael Foreman--is one cute pig.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1980
Publisher: Viking