Costello’s winsome tale explores the travails of being the youngest and the littlest.
When Little Pig, a.k.a. Jacob, and his brothers and sisters visit their grandpa, they break out his old marching-band instruments. Little Pig, to his dismay, discovers he’s just too little to play the drum or trumpet, let alone the trombone or tuba. When his siblings can’t get their playing or marching act together—hey presto!—a drum major is born, small of stature but packing a big whistle. Much of the book’s amiability derives from the artwork, sure-handed watercolors that are active but not busy, with (most of) the pigs having a merry old time trooping about, tooting and pounding away, collapsing in a heap. Yet the words add a considerable measure to the pleasure. Costello has built a story under the arching narrative, a body of asides that add color commentary: “Do we have any piccolos?” asks Little Pig. “There’s a jar in the fridge, behind the olives,” replies his distracted sister. “A kazoo?” “Gesundheit.” And when Little Pig does succeed—wielding his baton, he is now Jacob in his siblings’ eyes—he takes it with humility: “You can call me Little Pig.”Humor lifts the story from a simple tale of woe to transcendence. (Picture book. 4-7)