Super silliness helps new readers practice.
Virján uses just 54 different words and five sentences that list familiar items, mostly food. With very short phrases on each page, beginning readers can turn the pages quickly. Despite its brevity, the story has a satisfying arc, beginning with the pig in a bright red wig preparing a picnic, then being joined by a squirrel and rabbit friend for games and lunch. Rain sends them inside but doesn't dampen this cheerful trio's spirits. The story is too brief for chapters, but each section starts with “What this story needs is”—again giving new readers a chunk of recognizable vocabulary. Most of the vocabulary consists of one-syllable standards, while clues in the clear, digitally colored illustrations make more challenging words (“sandwiches,” “few,” “breeze”) easy to figure out. Best of all, the rhyming text bounces along without resorting to irritating singsong. The only quibble is the rather abrupt end: “What this story needs now is... / another place to eat.” Adding the word “lunch” would have brought the story arc full circle while maintaining the rhythm of the text.
Nitpicking aside, schools and libraries should plan on picnicking with this pig in a wig. (Early reader. 5-8)